Doctor Launches 'Walls Do Talk' Challenge to Combat Gender Stereotypes in Medical Schools

(November 14, 2017) BOSTON, Mass. – Although 48 percent of current medical school students are women, the images they see in their classrooms, labs and halls reinforce a stereotype of medicine as a male profession. Very often those images are on the so-called "honor walls" in which primarily male doctors are honored.

To help change that Julie K. Silver, MD, an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, has launched the "Walls Do Talk Challenge" in coordination with the organizers of the 2017 Career Advancement and Leadership Skills for Women in Healthcare Conference, which took place at the Fairmont Copley Plaza, Boston, MA on Nov 2 – 4, 2017. 

"Honor or portrait walls are commonplace in many higher learning institutions," says Dr. Silver. "Unfortunately, they often do not support an anti-bias learning environment. This, at a time when there is a tremendous need to dispel gender stereotypes and women make up a significant proportion of doctors in America." 

The Walls Do Talk Challenge invited medical students to take a "blank canvas and share their vision for the ideal learning environment" by designing an alternative wall. Eligible designs were not limited to any format—drawing, painting, using computer-generated images or photographs were all accepted for formal review as part of the challenge at www.SheLeadsHealthcare.com. Nine finalists were selected—each with a different style and message, and together they demonstrate that there are many wonderful ways to create an anti-bias learning environment. 

The public is invited to select the winner from the 9 finalists. Voting is open to the public from November 14-30, 2017. The medical student winner will receive a $500 grand prize. All 9 finalists have a compelling story to tell, and their opinions and voices are important. We invite the media to contact us to learn more about the Walls Do Talk Challenge and the medical students who have participated.

Dr. Silver is the director of the conference and is an Associate Chair for the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network. She is also on the staff at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals.

Progress on the Walls Do Talk Challenge will be updated on social media, including Twitter using the #WALLSDOTALK hashtag and more information and full contest rules can be found at www.SheLeadsHealthcare.com.

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