Women's Initiative forum

Victoria Rafalski, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar at Gladstone, shared ideas on how the Gladstone community could benefit from personal coaching and training workshops that address the unique challenges that women face in the workplace. [Photo: Chris Goodfellow, Gladstone Institutes]


Women have made great strides in the workforce over the past century, but many areas continue to need change. Women still face hurdles to obtain equal pay, sufficient maternity leave, funding, promotions, and more.

To tackle these obstacles, the Gladstone Institutes launched a women’s initiative to empower the Gladstone community to solve the diverse, unique, and complex needs of women in the organization.

The women’s initiative was introduced in late July with a kickoff event that provided a forum for discussion and laid the groundwork for action. The initiative’s facilitator, Michael Penn, MD, PhD, vice president of diversity, outreach, and mentoring at Gladstone, opened the event by highlighting the importance of these efforts.

“We want to foster inclusion and equality at Gladstone,” shared Penn. “But more than that, we want to enable everyone to contribute their gifts, intelligence, and efforts to Gladstone’s mission.”

Katherine Pollard, PhD, lead scientist in Gladstone’s Convergence Zone, expanded on the goals of the initiative and emphasized the importance of being solutions-focused—what are the needs and how can they be solved.

“At Gladstone, we love to solve problems,” said Pollard. “By listening to the needs of our community and keeping things solutions-focused, we can continue to make progress in improving the unique challenges that women face in the workplace.”

During the forum discussion, led by Meredith Calvert, PhD, director of the Histology and Light Microscopy Core, and Biljana Djukic, PhD, a staff research scientist at Gladstone, women and men shared topics that personally concerned them.

Many people spoke of childcare challenges, such as costs and schedule flexibility. Gladstone offers childcare assistance to its employees, but there is always more that can be done.

Reflecting on the event, Susan Dzierson, vice president of human resources, noted, “This launch meeting is the first time we have been able to hear so many voices at once at Gladstone. We continue to make progress toward overcoming many of the issues that women face at Gladstone, but we still have a long way to go.”

Additional topics discussed during the event include addressing salary inequality; providing leadership training and coaching for women, as well as diversity training for all supervisors; hosting educational seminars; and quantifying where Gladstone currently stands on women’s issues so that it can measure how well it improves them over time. These diverse topics will form the basis of subcommittees that will focus their attention on specific issues, with the intent of more directly influencing change.

“We are a small, progressive organization that can change more easily than much larger organizations,” said Calvert. “We hope that our efforts will set an example and inspire others to solve similar problems within their own communities.”