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Women in Medicine Share Success Stories

CancerWise - January 2009

By Bayan Raji

Many women in the workplace feel conflicted choosing between their careers and their families. A recently published book illustrates the successful choices women faculty members at M. D. Anderson have made.

Elizabeth Travis, Ph.D., editor of the book and associate vice president for Women Faculty Programs at M. D. Anderson, says it’s important for women to know it is possible to succeed in both the professional and personal realms. She says women often feel conflict because they try to handle everything themselves without asking for help.

“It’s not about doing everything,” she says. “It’s about deciding what’s most important and doing that.”

Choices are central

“Legends and Legacies: Personal Journeys of Women Physicians and Scientists at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center,” contains 26 autobiographical essays by women who describe struggles and choices they’ve made pertaining to their families, educations and careers.

“The book shows women can have what they want, and there are always choices to be made,” Travis says. “So many of these women made so many choices, and they are all successful.”

Policies can change workplace

Travis, who has an autobiographical essay in the book, says understanding the stories of these women and others like them is important to institutions that want to create family-friendly policies. Policies that improve the workplace for women also improve the workplace for men, she says. Also, friendlier policies can ensure a more representative percentage of women in leadership positions.

Travis says she hopes the book can inspire a new generation of women in cancer medicine and cancer science, especially because the women in the book are from an array of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The book can be purchased at Volunteer Services Gift Shops or online. Proceeds will benefit internships for women interested in careers in cancer medicine or science.

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© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center