Gender Equality Matters in Academia

A new CUGH working group launched: Gender Equality in the Academic Global Community

The first in-person Gender Equality in the Academic Global Community meeting was held at the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) in New York, New York on March 16th, 2018. Thirty four women from around the world, including the US, UK, and South Africa, gathered at the table to discuss how to advance gender equality and women’s leadership in global health.

The meeting was led by Drs. Roopa Dhatt (Chair), Executive Director of Women in Global Health and Mamta Swaroop (Vice Chair), Associate Professor of Surgery at Northwestern Univeristy and the three sub-committees –research, policy, and personal & professional development – were introduced to the attendees. Following a brief introduction to the working group and subcommittees, the meeting was broken down to three groups of subcommittees for small group brainstorming to discuss current barriers and opportunities for women in global health.

Personal and Professional Development committee was led by Dr. Mamta Swaroop. At both personal professional stages, participants identified lack of access to mentorship as one of the greatest barriers. Professionally, there was also a lack of structured leadership training for women. The “old boys club” culture appeared to be present as well as both implicit and explicit gender in many work places.

Suggested approaches toward these barriers were development of a mentorship program through a matching algorithm based on personal/professional goals, mentor and sponsor partnership for funding opportunities and continued idea exchange, and finally taking the initiative to building a supportive social network toward gender equality.

Research committee was led by Dr. Jennifer Downs, where attendees identified potential research topics going forward and how to get the projects off the ground. Research ideas focused on studying the current state of women participating in global health, including salary, leadership, and career advancement gaps. These ideas were not limited to women from High Income Countries, but also for those from Low-to-Middle Income Countries (LMIC). In order to start answering these questions, the committee suggested that we begin with identifying the appropriate resources, such as the CUGH member institutions and committees to study their respective gender ratio in membership, speakers, and moderators. For funding of these ideas, partnership between private and academic/public sectors were brought up.

Policy committee was led by Dr. Katie Wells. Ideas from the committee included implementing a CUGH-designated code of conduct, drafting statements for best practices that promote gender equity, both of which can be modeled after organizations that already have gender equity standards in place. The committee also suggested that CUGH encourage a gender balanced speakers and moderators at upcoming conferences.

There are exciting upcoming opportunities for those interested in taking a step further for gender equity and women’s leadership in global health:

1. Women in Global Health is a growing organization with chapters forming around the world. If you are interested in joining the movement, you can learn more at

2. Women in Global Health Research Initiative Scientific Conference will take place on April 24th, 2018 at the Weill Cornell College of Medicine in New York, New York. There will be oral abstracts and poster presentations that discuss innovative global health research for improving women’s health and ideas on how to promote women overall in global health participation. (For further information, visit

3. The Women Leaders in Global Health Conference will take place on November 8-9, 2018 at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Sessions will include mentor-mentee connection opportunities, recognition of successful organizational models that support women, development of communication skills, accountability, and pathways to a changed future. (For further information, visit and check out the WLGH17 video.

We look forward to hearing about brilliant new ideas around the world.

Finally for closing thoughts, the session was open for discussion and suggestions. Some of the great ideas that came out of the final thoughts were the following:

  • We should open up this working group meeting at the CUGH 2019 to non-members so that we can maximize participation and representation.

  • Work on a CUGH-sponsored scholarship for women from LMIC to travel to conferences.

  • The working group should have a page on the CUGH website that includes resources and statements.

We would like to thank everyone who were able to make it to the first in-person meeting for Gender Equality in the Academic Global Community working group meeting. We are excited for upcoming events and meetings where we can share great ideas for the future.


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