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Learning to lead: a new digital resource library for women faculty in medicine at Yale

May 25, 2021

Prasanna Ananth, MD, PhD, assistant professor in pediatrics, said she has looked for opportunities to lead since joining Yale’s faculty in 2017. But unlike medical training or clinical experience, leadership skills weren’t a part of her medical education. So Ananth did her own research, finding resources online and through talking to others. There were books (“Dare to Lead,” “Getting to Yes”), online courses, podcasts (Brene Brown, Laura Sicola), TED Talks (Brittany Packnett, Lori Gottlieb), and organizations to support women’s career growth both inside and outside Yale.

“It occurred to me that it would be awesome to pull these resources together for other women faculty,” said Ananth. “As a clinician and researcher, I’ve had amazing mentors who have counseled me in research skills. Now, as I am growing toward research independence, I’m seeking both mentored and self-directed opportunities to nurture my capacity for leadership.”

Her idea grew into the Women’s Leadership Resource Library which launched online in April.

The fully digital lending library, available to anyone with Yale Library access, includes recommendations from other departments at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) and organizations like the Committee on the Status of Women in Medicine (SWIM), where Ananth is a liaison for her department. Melissa Funaro, MS, MLS, clinical research and education librarian at the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Memorial Library, helped to collate the materials and build the website.

“We needed a one-stop shop,” Ananth said.

The books and talks address topics like building confidence, embracing vulnerability, knowing your worth, responding in crisis, and the soft skills needed to become an effective leader.

Ananth says the skills she’s developed in the process of building the library have helped her to be more effective in leading her clinical research laboratory.

The resource library has already become a networking tool for women faculty at YSM. Jaime A. Cavallo, MD, MPHS, assistant professor of urology, said she and fellow faculty member Leslie Rickey, MD, MPH, associate professor of urology, and of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences, have formed a quarterly book club for women faculty in their department that will center around titles found in the resource library, to be discussed over Zoom.

“Historically, urology is very male dominated,” said Cavallo, who noted that women represent just 9% of practicing urologists.

For those who prefer to browse hard copies, an early lending library around women leadership at YSM can be found at the Office for Women in Medicine (SHM L202). Merle Waxman, associate dean and director of Women in Medicine, says those books and journals “have been borrowed and read by the female students, trainees and faculty for many years.”

Submitted by Brita Belli on May 25, 2021