Gender Equity Progress

More than 200 women in the school of medicine have reached the highest academic rank of full professor.

Published in Dome - October 2015

Behavioral scientist Felicia Hill-Briggs studies health disparities and how high-risk populations manage diabetes and other forms of chronic disease. She is also the 201st woman to become a full professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her recent promotion marks the next chapter in the story of women in medicine at Johns Hopkins.

Janice Clements, vice dean of the faculty, will make opening remarks and Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, will speak about the school of medicine’s strides toward gender equity at “Celebrating 200+ Women Professors,” an event scheduled for 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, in the Chevy Chase Bank Auditorium at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. The occasion will honor the achievements of Hill-Briggs, who will speak at the event, and 211 other women who have attained the highest academic rank at Johns Hopkins over the past century.

Also slated to speak are Susan Michaelis (No. 90) of the Department of Cell Biology; Julie Freischlag (No. 95), former director of the Department of Surgery, now dean of the University of California Davis School of Medicine; and Linda Fried (No. 50), formerly of the Department of Medicine, now dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. 

These speakers were chosen, in part, because of the diversity of their training and careers, says Barbara Fivush, associate dean of women in science and medicine and professor of pediatrics, who organized the event. Michaelis has a Ph.D. in the basic sciences, Hill-Briggs has a Ph.D. in the behavioral and social sciences, Freischlag is a surgeon, and Fried is an M.D. and has an M.P.H. in epidemiology. “It’s exciting to see that women have made their journey to professorship along different pathways,” she says.

The first woman to attain a full professorship at the school of medicine was Florence Sabin, in 1917. In 2003, the school promoted its 100th woman to that rank: Judith Karp is now professor emerita of oncology and the former director of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center’s Leukemia Program.

That it took more than a century to reach the 100 milestone and only 12 additional years to reach the 200 mark is a testament to the institution’s commitment to gender equity, Fivush says. “We view this as a huge shared accomplishment: So many of our earlier women professors paved the way for other women to achieve this rank and honor.”