noted, “Harvey Fineberg combines a rich academic leadership experience with a continuing commitment to and involvement in the health of the public.” He is an outstanding choice, and I am so delighted to be able to welcome him and introduce him to you.
It is a pleasure for me to be here with you at this workshop for many reasons. First, it’s just a delight for me to be established now here at the Institute of Medicine, within the National Academies. This is actually the first workshop or working program that I’ve been privileged to welcome since my appointment just a week ago. I could not imagine a more fitting way to begin as the president of the Institute of Medicine.
When I saw the title of this enterprise, I actually thought the pronunciation was double-excellence. The reason that seemed especially meaningful to me is that it’s so obvious that society cannot afford to squander half of the scientific and clinical brainpower available to us. Aside from how important it is to individuals, the purpose of this activity to me from a social point of view is very simple: we need to take fullest advantage of every individual’s talent and ability to contribute. But we’re failing to do that. We’re failing to do it for women. We’re failing to do it for disadvantaged minorities. We’re failing to do it for reasons that have nothing to do with that individual’s ability to contribute.
I hope that in the course of your deliberations each of you representing a professional and clinical society can carry back two or three really good ideas that you had not previously thought of. If each society can introduce just a few initiatives that can make a difference, I believe the effect will be cumulative and significant.
This is a field for long-distance runners; it is not a place for sprinters who run out of breath. This is a field that requires perseverance. At the same time, I don’t think we have to content ourselves only with distant and remote solutions. I believe there can be positive tipping points. I think Princeton is a good example. Believe me, in academia if women can take over at Princeton, they can take over anywhere.
I hope we will find a way to put those initiatives, those new activities, and those commitments into place, so they can bring more of our organizations, institutions, and societies to that positive tipping point where the place of women is no longer a matter for future solution but a matter of current reality for scientists, clinicians, and leadership at every level. I commend each of you for being here, and I wish you every success today and in the months and years to follow.