Timothy Eberlein, MD, the Bixby Professor and Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has been named the inaugural winner of the Pillar of Support Award. The award was created by the Academic Women’s Network at the School of Medicine to recognize outstanding support of female faculty.
Eberlein, who also serves as director of the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, received the award April 9 at the organization’s spring dinner.
“Dr. Eberlein has rightly earned the honor of the inaugural AWN Pillar of Support Award through his steadfast endorsement and mentoring of women,” said Susan E. Mackinnon, MD, the Sydney M. Jr. and Robert H. Shoenberg Professor and chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “He not only listens to the concerns of female residents, fellows and attendings, he acts on their concerns. He has provided the resources and support needed to allow new, full-time mothers, both residents and attendings, to be full-time surgeons, mid-career mothers to lead national programs, and grandmothers to be members of the Institute of Medicine.
“While women have reached parity as members of our medical school classes, their advancement to the higher ranks in most medical fields has stalled. With his strong mentorship and sponsorship, Dr. Eberlein has given the women in the Department of Surgery a leg up and a push forward. Dr. Eberlein has set the AWN Pillar of Support bar at a high level and is most deserving of this important award.”
When Eberlein became chairman of the Department of Surgery in 1998, the department had three female faculty members. The department now has 37 women in its 141-member faculty. This includes six women who are professors of surgery, two of whom hold endowed chairs.
Further, about 35 percent of residents and 35 percent of fellows are women.
“It is very important for male leaders in academic medicine to feel comfortable mentoring women and helping them get into leadership positions themselves,” Eberlein said. “A number of years ago I looked at graduates of the top 10 medical schools in the country, and of the top 10 percent of graduates in those schools, 70 percent were women.
“It’s very obvious if you want the very best, then you have to make sure you have a place for women in leadership.”