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Know your worth: Advice for women in dermatology


We sat down with Dr. Siegfried to talk more about her advice to young female dermatologists.

Elaine Siegfried, M.D.
Dr. Elaine Siegfried is the Director of Pediatric Dermatology at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, and a Professor of Pediatrics and Dermatology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Siegfried has authored or co-authored more than 80 original papers, abstracts and book chapters; serves on boards and committees for a variety of dermatological professional organizations, and has been repeatedly named to lists of the best doctors in St. Louis and in the United States.

In a recent column for Derm Times, Dr. Siegfried said, “By the time I completed my training, almost half of my professional colleagues were female. So I am impatiently annoyed that in the year 2016, women have not been as equally represented among the leaders in our field.”

We sat down with Dr. Siegfried to talk more about her advice to young female dermatologists.

Dr. Siegfried explained that, in her career, she had made the mistake of assuming that her chief would provide compensation that reflected her value and the she’d be fine with whatever resources – space, support staff - she needed to succeed. As her career progressed, however, she realized that resources are mostly unavailable without asking, and sometimes fighting.

Women tend to be collaborative, she pointed out, a trait that has its own rewards. But recognition and resources – financial and otherwise - are necessary.

“Compensation isn’t the most important parameter reflecting the value of your work, but it matters,” she said, “because your compensation mirrors other people’s perception of your worth. In a large institution, that becomes your reality.”

Progress is impossible without adequate resources. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that women are paid less for equal work,” Dr. Siegfried said. “They often settle for less. You have to know what you’re worth – and you have to ask for it.”

Dr. Siegfried pointed out that seeking resources impacts the care a physician can provide more than it impacts personal gain. “At my institution, I learned, ‘No money, no mission,’” she said. Fundraising, she discovered, was another important job requirement.

Dr. Siegfried’s main guidance to young women (and men) entering the field of dermatology? “You must know your worth, and recognize what resources you’ll need.”

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