What if you had to choose between having a successful career and a family? It seems unfair to ask someone to make that choice. But for women in STEM, their decision to have both often feels judged by their co-workers and managers.
Studies have shown that women who are married or have children often face barriers in STEM. Some of these women report that they are overlooked for promotions. Some feel that their commitment to their job is frequently questioned.
Women are considered the traditional caregivers in the family. They face extra challenges when managing their time between work and home. This is especially true when women work in a male-dominated field like STEM. The challenge of achieving a healthy work-life balance can often deter women from entering the field. It can even cause women in STEM to leave their careers altogether.
Women’s College Hospital (WCH) recognized that working women had to balance their time. By 1965, it was estimated that 70% of its all-female staff were married and some had children. To accommodate these challenges, the women in the hospital worked as teams. The departments also implemented flexible work schedules.
These strategies helped women like Dr. Ricky Schachter achieve personal and professional success.
Dr. Schachter graduated from the University of Toronto with a medical degree in 1943. While in medical school, she married and later had two children – who she even listed on her CV! She completed a post-graduate degree in dermatology at Columbia University. She joined the staff of WCH in 1946 and established its first dermatology clinic.
Audio clip with transcript: Dr. Schachter talks about the Psoriasis Education and Research Centre (PERC).
During her 50-year career, she conducted many research studies in dermatology. She published research papers and spoke at conferences around the world. In 1976, she established the Psoriasis Education and Research Centre at WCH. It was Canada’s first hospital program dedicated to the research of psoriasis. Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition.
Dr. Schachter achieved great professional success. She was also equally proud of her personal triumphs. Her career exemplifies a woman’s ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance in STEM – when in the right workplace.