Q&A with Nupur Ghoshal, ’01 PhD, ’03 MD, and Kavitha Gandhi, ’98 MD, ’99 GME

A serendipitous encounter in the lobby of the Tarry building during alumni weekend last year between Nupur Ghoshal and Kavitha Gandhi began with pleasantries, but quickly dove into a deep conversation about their shared experiences as women in medicine.

Nupur was raised as a faculty brat in an enriched academic environment where her parents were supportive of her development as an academic neurologist. Even so, she rapidly encountered challenges and hurdles as a woman in her ascent within academic medicine. Though Kavitha was raised by a physician father and NCI scientist mother, who were supportive of her career as a clinical dermatologist, she, like many women physicians, has sought support from close friends and colleagues when navigating implicit bias as a female physician over the years.

Illustrated left to right: Nupur Ghoshal and Kavitha Gandhi

Why talk about women in medicine now?
Although women made up about half of each of our medical school classes, the time is ripe, especially in the #MeToo era, to provide forums for discussion about how to help fill the gender gap in leadership. One forum we turn to often is social media (for us, the Women Neurologists Group and Physician Moms Group on Facebook have been great resources). But nothing beats real-life connections. We want to promote and connect alumni to conferences, symposia, and informal networking events, which allow women to gain skills for career and personal development in all stages of their careers, whatever (or however untraditional) those paths may be.

What role does networking play in a female physician’s career?
Networking with other female physicians and learning how to cultivate mentoring relationships with allies of WIM is a powerful tool women need to succeed. We want to help bridge opportunities for alumni to engage in this important discussion locally and nationally, with thought leaders in the field who are doing valuable research and changing the landscape at institutions across the country.

How has Northwestern promoted this important conversation?
We believe that Northwestern has welcomed initiatives to promote a platform for discussion. In October of last year, the Departments of Medicine and Surgery hosted the inaugural WIM Symposium, which was attended by my more than 200, including Dean Eric G. Neilson. Nationally recognized speakers and Feinberg faculty delivered evidence-based presentations on topics including the current barriers for women physicians, physician wellness, negotiation skills, mentoring and coaching. The event was very well-received. We have rallied the Board to support the second (and hopefully annual) WIM Symposium, which will be held this October.

How else can alumni engage in this effort?
One way to participate is by attending the annual WIM tea at The Drake during alumni weekend. This past April, we had our third, which we organized and Nupur moderated – if you weren’t able to make it, we hope to see you next year. In June, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago will host the second Women Physicians Networking Event. And soon, we will be launching a closed Facebook page for female alumni – called Women in Medicine: Northwestern University Medical Alumni Association Group – providing a digital platform for exchanging ideas year-round. We invite you to join us in this conversation!

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has published a position paper on women in medicine, covering equity in physician compensation, career advancement, and bias. For more information, go to acponline.com

Upcoming Events

JUNE 12, CHICAGO| Northwestern’s Women Physician Networking Event at MCA Chicago

JULY 25-28, NEW YORK | American Medical Women’s Association International Women’s Conference

SEPTEMBER 12–15, SCOTTSDALE | Brave Enough Conference

SEPTEMBER 20–21, CHICAGO | Women in Medicine (WIM) Summit

OCTOBER 11, CHICAGO | Northwestern’s Women in Medicine Symposium