Becoming the First Female Faculty Member to Chair a Clinical Department: Part I


Becoming the First Female Faculty Member to Chair a Clinical Department: Part I



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The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center


Houston, Texas

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

And was that the moment when it was suggested that you become chair?

Janet M. Bruner, MD


Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

I’m sorry?

Janet M. Bruner, MD

No. It actually—the way that the work went here—oh, and you were asking me how many women were in the department and things like that, too. Actually, it seems like there were—when I think back, it seems like it was all men, but there were some women in the department. Barbara Osborne was here, and Karen Cleary, both of whom were really excellent pathologists. I’m trying to think. There must have been other women pathologists too. But I can’t think of them. They were here when I came, and fairly soon after that it must’ve been—we started to add a few more pathologists along through the mid to late 1980s. Actually, there were a couple of cytopathologists who were here when I came: Ruth Katz and Nour Sneige—who’s S-N-E-I-G-E. Both of them were here. They were in cytology, which is another subspecialty of pathology that deals with individual cells, and they had established a program of what we call fine-needle aspiration. It’s not like a needle biopsy. What they do is they stick a needle into a lump or someplace where there is a lesion and they pull back on the needle and just—it doesn’t cut out a cylinder of tissue. It just sucks out individual cells, and it’s much less invasive than the biopsy. It causes less bleeding usually and less trauma. Then they smear those individual cells on a glass slide and look at them and can usually make a diagnosis from that. It’s a technique that was started in Sweden, and one or both of them actually went to Sweden in the early 1980s to learn how to do this, and they brought the program back. So we’ve got a fairly good—a fairly large program. They were doing that and then we started to add—as we added more junior faculty on through the later part of the ‘80s—I think we hired—we started to hire more women, too. But I never really felt acutely aware of any prejudice against women. You were sort of evaluated on how good you were, which was nice because that was the way I had felt through my residency and fellowship too, but I’ll talk about it later. After I became chair and around that time I started to feel—I think that’s where the glass ceiling hits is when you get up that high.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Into leadership positions.

Janet M. Bruner, MD


Becoming the First Female Faculty Member to Chair a Clinical Department: Part I