Posted by on November 16, 2011 - 2:54pm

WHSP students in surgery simulation lab

The Women's Health Science Program for High School Girls developed by our Institute for Women's Health Research has just been awarded the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by President Barack Obama!  This five-year-old program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, targets primarily African American and Latina girls from disadvantaged backgrounds in Chicago. The young women can study at four different Northwestern academies: cardiology, physical science, infectious disease and oncofertility.

"We're delighted that President Obama recognized the impact of mentoring the next generation of female scientists and leaders and are humbled by the recognition of this award,” said Teresa Woodruff, director of the Institute for Women’s Health Research and the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feinberg. “By helping women and girls we can help change the world."

The White House award recognizes the crucial role mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering—particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields. By offering their expertise and encouragement, mentors help prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers, while ensuring that tomorrow’s innovators reflect and benefit from the diverse talent of the United States.    “Through their commitment to education and innovation, these individuals and organizations are playing a crucial role in the development of our 21st century workforce,” President Obama said. “Our Nation owes them a debt of gratitude for helping ensure that America remains the global leader in science and engineering for years to come.”

Of the 90 students who have participated in the Women’s Health Science Program from the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School in Chicago, 18 are seniors in high school, 70 are attending college, and two have received undergraduate degrees.  Of those attending college, 51 percent are pursuing science majors.

Woodruff plans to expand the science program to other high schools in the Chicago area. The program also has grown beyond Chicago through Woodruff’s efforts.  Similar informal education programs based on the Chicago model are now running in San Diego, Portland and Philadelphia.  To learn more about the WHSP program click HERE.

Woodruff, a reproductive endocrinologist, researches female reproductive health and infertility and is chief of the division of fertility preservation at the Feinberg School. She also leads the Oncofertility Consortium , a national a team of oncologists, fertility specialists, social scientists, educators and policy makers to translate her research to the clinical care of women who will lose their fertility due to cancer treatment.  In addition, she has been an advocate for sex and gender inclusivity and study in basic science, translational studies and clinical trials.


Posted by on July 29, 2009 - 9:01am
OSA students learning laparoscopic techniques

OSA students learning laparoscopic techniques

A priority of the Institute for Women’s Health Research is to develop and deliver educational experiences focused on women’s health for students and professionals at all levels of training and practice.  IWHR has created an innovative educational program call the Women’s Health Science Program for High School Girls and Beyond (WHSP and Beyond).  The purpose of this program is to prepare and inspire a diverse population of high school girls to become the next generation of women leaders in science and medicine.  Despite many efforts over the last three decades to overcome the gender and racial/ethnic disparities the problem still penetrates our society.  Thus, there is a definite need to continue to invest in the exploration and development of approaches that will once and for all change the face of the science and medical community to include more women and minorities.

WHSP and Beyond consists of four academies – Oncofertility Saturday Academy, Cardiology Summer Academy, Infectious Disease Summer Academy, and the Physical Science Summer Academy.  The notion is to provide multiple opportunities for high school students to explore the basic science research, clinical application and career options of a variety of science disciplines.  The academies offered in WHSP and Beyond share four common overarching goals –
➢    To actively engage high school girls in hands-on laboratory and clinical activities, college level lectures and group projects to learn and apply science concepts and inquiry skills.
➢    To empower high school girls by providing relevant and applicable learning experiences on women’s health topics that they can use to make informed, authoritative decisions about their own personal health and share with their families and communities.
➢    To provide high school girls with exposure and the opportunity to explore the wide variety of academic programs and career options in science and medicine.
➢    To support high school girls during the transition from high school into college with an on-going mentoring network of scientists, clinicians, teachers, alumni and family.

To date there have been 47 high school students who have participated in the Oncofertility Saturday Academy and 14 high school students who have participated in the Cardiology Summer Academy.  The plan is to initiate the other two academies during the summer of 2010.

If we project out to 2020, approximately 650 students will have participated in WHSP and Beyond and the girls from the first cohort of 2007 will be 30 year-old women.  How many of the WHSP and Beyond participants will be on track or have reached their goal of becoming scientists, doctors, or engineers? Does WHSP and Beyond have the potential to change the face of the science community?