In 2018, the SAMS has launched a new prize to recognise women in academic medicine and to motivate early-career female scientists. The prize is named after two women with distinguished medical careers: Lina Stern, who was the first woman to hold a professorship at the Faculty of Medicine in Geneva, and Ruth Gattiker, who was among the first female professors appointed at the Faculty of Medicine in Zurich.
In Switzerland, around 10 per cent of medical graduates pursue an academic career; this group includes significantly fewer women than men, even though women now account for almost 60 per cent of all medical students. Only 10 to 15 per cent of professorships in medicine are currently held by women. To ensure that sufficient medical scientists are available over the medium and longer term, more women will need to pursue a career in academic medicine.
An Oxford University study explored the question of why, when entry to medical schools is evenly split between men and women, those working in university medical departments are predominantly men. One of the main factors cited was a lack of role models for women. This provides the rationale for the Stern-Gattiker Prize, which is to be awarded every two years to a female medical scientist who:
- has obtained her postdoctoral qualification within the past ten years,
- holds a permanent position as a senior hospital physician, and
- is suitable, for reasons to be explained in each case, to act as a role model.
The Prize carries an award of CHF 15,000. Following the panel’s decision, the recipient may name an individual within their personal circle and/or an institution that made a substantial contribution to her career development. In such cases, additional prizes each worth CHF 5,000 may be awarded. Information on the nomination process can be found in the call for nominations (pdf).
The next call for nominations is planned for the beginning of 2020.
In 2018, Prof. Annalisa Berzigotti was the first to be awarded the Stern Gattiker Prize.