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Catherine Wang, Darlene Dasent and Dr. Danielle Rodin
(L to R) Catherine Wang, Darlene Dasent and Dr. Danielle Rodin at the UHN JLABS International Women’s Day event. (Photo: UHN)

Achieving a gender balance in science and healthcare, particularly in leadership, was at the heart of an International Women's Day event hosted by UHN and JLABS, Johnson & Johnson's life science incubator.

The second annual event featured two panel discussions, including one on gender-based barriers in the hospital and research sectors. Discussions centred on the opportunities for system change – and the need for leaders to drive that change – and highlighted recent examples by UHN to meaningfully increase female representation.

"I've chosen to work at UHN for so many years because it continuously strives to be a high-performing organization," Catherine Wang, one of the event panelists and Vice President of Clinical Operations and Diagnostic Partnerships at UHN, told the event Thursday, the eve of International Women's Day.

"And, we know there is a strong correlation between high-performing organizations and diversity in leadership, including gender diversity. UHN's future is full of exciting potential and I am proud of our commitment to empowering and investing in a diverse workforce at an organizational level."

December saw the launch of the UHN 2019-23 Strategic Plan – "A Healthier World" – which identifies "Empower and invest in a diverse TeamUHN" as a key strategic priority.The aim is to deliver a "best-in-class work experience" that maximizes the advantages of diversity found in Toronto and Canada.

Powerful women share their diverse perspectives and pathways to success

Opening remarks at the UHN and JLABS event were delivered by UHN's Chief Financial Officer, Darlene Dasent, who was named one of Canada's Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2018 by Women's Executive Network (WXN).

Panelists from UHN included Catherine and Dr. Danielle Rodin, Radiation Oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

During the event, Dr. Rodin reflected on her own training experiences, which included the benefits of strong mentors.

"We have a great opportunity to create more opportunity earlier on," said Dr. Rodin. "There are so many talented women entering STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but we haven't been able to retain that gender balance and diversity beyond the entry-level and we can't move them through the ranks as quickly.

"I encourage everyone to get involved in these important conversations – not just on International Women's Day but every day."

Dr. Sharon Straus, Director, Knowledge Translation Program, St. Michael's Hospital, and Dr. Sophie Soklaridis, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto (U of T), Faculty of Medicine, also participated as panelists. Linda Quattrin, Executive Director, Communications, U of T, Faculty of Medicine, moderated.

Dr. Kevin Smith speaking up for an equitable future

Kevin Smith – WAM Summit
(L to R) Dr. Gillian Hawker, Chair, Department of Medicine, U of T,moderated a panel featuring Prof. Anita Anand, Professor of Law, UofT, Prof. Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, U of T, Dr. Kevin Smith, UHN President & CEO, and Dr. Onyenyechukwu Nnorom, MD Program Black Health Theme Lead, UofT. (Photo: Kenneth Chou/UofT)

UHN also showed its support for International Women's Day at the University of Toronto's Summit for Women in Academic Medicine.

Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO of UHN, spoke on a panel about leading towards an equitable future and emphasized UHN's commitment to building a diverse and healthy culture.

Read more about last year's UHN/JLABS International Women's Day event.​

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