Cincinnati Children's Receives $1.5 Million Schmidlapp Fund Award To Support Careers of Women in Academic Pediatrics

Monday, April 25, 2005

Cincinnati Children's has been awarded $1.5 million from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, to create a center that will support the career development of women in academic pediatrics.

The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Center for Career Development of Women in Academic Pediatrics is intended to enhance the careers of women, from high school students to senior faculty, and will include a wide range of programs and services. Officials at Cincinnati Children's believe the program will serve as a national model for advancing and supporting women faculty.

"National trends have shown that little gain in the advancement of women in academic medicine has been made in the last 25 years," says Sandra Degen, PhD, associate chair for academic affairs at Cincinnati Children's and acting vice president for research, University of Cincinnati.

"Even though about one third of all faculty are women, there continues to be a lag in the proportion of women at the higher academic ranks (levels of professor and/or tenured), both locally and nationally, and few women reach the top rung of the academic ladder. The department of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's is in an excellent position to become a national leader in advancing and supporting women faculty."

The award from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee, stems from the success of the Fifth Third Bank / Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Women Scholars Program at Cincinnati Children's. The Women Scholars program was established in 1997 with a $500,000 grant from the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund, Fifth Third Bank, Trustee. The Women Scholars Program was founded to enhance the recruitment and retention of female researchers and is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States. It includes a mentoring program and protected time for research.

The goal of the Women Scholars Program has been to identify junior female faculty members who show promise and leadership skills, provide them with financial support and protected time for research, and help them through the tenure and promotion process. The program, combined with the leadership of Tom Boat, MD, chairman of the department of pediatrics, has helped to create an attractive environment for the recruitment of women faculty at all ranks, according to Dr. Degen, and has helped the number of women faculty in the department of pediatrics increase from 65 to 139 in the last five years. In addition, Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund support has helped scholars in the program to pull in more than $3 million in federal grant support.

"The success of the Women Scholars Program has brought to our attention that there is a need for extensive guidance for most women in academic pediatrics at our institution," says Dr. Degen. "Moreover, there is need for enhancing the mentorship skills of division leaders to promote faculty advancement of women in their divisions. Also, although strides have been made to enhance the career development of women at our institution, there is need for ongoing tracking of mentorship and career development to ensure continued success."

In addition to increasing mentorship, the Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Center for Career Development of Women in Academic Pediatrics will include:

  • A summer internship program for female high school students
  • Seminars and retreats, as well as support for invited speakers and for women faculty to attend national leadership meetings
  • Evaluation and tracking of career progress
  • A national leadership meeting for women to be held at Cincinnati Children's to highlight the medical center's women leaders and career development program
  • Disseminating lessons learned with other academic centers throughout the nation
  • Seeking grant support from national sources to further advance specific components of the program.

"The Charlotte R. Schmidlapp Fund was established to ennoble, uplift and strengthen the lives of young women," says Heidi B. Jark, Fifth Third Bank vice president and foundation officer. "We feel this grant supporting the Center for Career Development of Women in Academic Pediatrics promotes the goals and values for which this fund was created. We're pleased to be part of this important initiative."

"With previous support from the Schmidlapp Fund, Cincinnati Children's and its department of pediatrics have made notable gains in the proportion of women on faculty as well as their impact on Cincinnati Children's missions of patient care, teaching and research," adds Dr. Boat. "Increasingly, women are assuming leadership roles within our programs. The new, generous award from the Schmidlapp Fund will sustain the program and broaden its impact."

"Under Dr. Boat's leadership, women have started to progress up the academic ladder and be appointed to the tenure track," says Dr. Degen. "He has provided an environment that is supportive of women's careers."

Cincinnati Children's is a 423-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to transforming the way health care is delivered by providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. It ranks third nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer,, 513-636-4656