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Women Philanthropists

As a physician faculty member at Johns Hopkins, I’m writing to express my concerns regarding the cover story in the most recent issue of Dome (“Women Leading the [United] Way,” October). I’m surprised that the editorial staff of this publication would find it appropriate to publish an article highlighting the highly selected subset of women at Johns Hopkins positioned to make United Way pledges of such magnitude. My concerns are the following:

1. Are we to assume that this level of giving is only an option for well-paid white women? Given the readership of Dome and the racial mix of the workforce at Hopkins, many would find this type of article insensitive to the broader employee base at Hopkins.

2. Physicians at the institution are, in general, paid at no more than the 25th percentile in relation to the salaries of other physicians nationally. Senior administrators at Hopkins are paid at or near the 75th percentile (not to mention bonuses which are rarely, if ever, provided to physician faculty). I suspect many faculty members would give more to the United Way if their salary support paralleled those of the senior leadership.

3. The article didn’t indicate that contributions at this level reflect the combined contributions of the women and their spouses.

While I believe in the mission of the United Way, and contribute at the leadership level, I believe there are more sensitive ways to encourage participation broadly and to selectively encourage high-level contributions more privately than in an institution-wide publication such as Dome.

Name withheld upon request


From the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives
I just read your great article about women at JHU leading the way—United Way—with donations. Thanks for talking about women having funded the SOM, when the four doctors and the entire board of trustees couldn’t get the money together. It is of equal importance to what the four founding male doctors did.

But, it was five women, not four, who “went out and raised the requisite half million by themselves.” The five charter members of the Women’s Fund Committee networked with women all over the nation to form the larger Women’s Fund Committee. Their story is a little-known part of Hopkins history and is an extremely important one.

Without the four founding doctors, the SOM and the Hospital would not have become what it is today. And, without the five women of the Women’s Fund Committee, the four doctors could not have begun.

I would dearly love to see a sculpture of this photograph—in front of the new main entrance to the Hospital on Orleans Street. It would be stunning in marble or fiberglass. And it would be poignant.

Signe Lauren
Molecular Microbiology & Immunology
Bloomberg School of Public Health



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