NALHE Celebrates Women’s History Month!
A Conversation with Dr. Melissa Gonzalez, NALHE Board Member
Q: To celebrate the “history” part of Women’s History Month—is there a woman or women from history that you find especially inspiring and why?
A: There are so many historical women that have paved the wave for the rights and careers that we have today. As a basic scientist, I have always been inspired by Rosalind Franklin PhD. Her research in chemistry and X ray crystallography were crucial to the discovery of the DNA double helix, and yet she was not recognized because she had passed away from ovarian cancer when the Nobel Prize was awarded to Watson and Crick. Her work revolutionized science and cancer research. She was also clearly a brave and brilliant woman that pursued a PhD in a field where few women were represented.
Q: Why is Women’s History Month important this year, and how has that changed from years prior?
A: It is important this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 impact on women for the past two years. Latina women have always been strong at multi-tasking family and career (and in that order of priority). The pandemic required that we flex those muscles even more so by becoming daily educators (online school), daily chefs (never ending snack/mealtimes), expert sanitizers, and not losing sight of maintaining our careers. As a result, there was even less downtime for women. We don’t give up because we know that our efforts are crucial for the progress that has taken years to achieve.
Q: How has COVID-19 impacted women in the workplace? More so, how has it impacted underrepresented groups of Women?
A: As I previously mentioned, women…especially Latinas took on the main household role of educator/chef/sanitizer because culturally, our families are the priority. We won’t sacrifice our families, nor should we.
Unfortunately, the statistics highlight the toll on women, the loss of women in the workplace. Therefore, it’s more important than ever as women, that we collectively help, mentor, and assist each other. We also need to be more forthright in asking the males in our lives to advocate for us.
Q: Where do you want to see NALHE in the advancement of women in healthcare leadership this time next year?
A: I envision NALHE at the forefront highlighting the issues that Latina professionals and Latina patients face in healthcare….and more importantly, identifying ways to connect Latinas on all these issues.
Q: Any final words of wisdom for the young women aspiring to be healthcare executives and leaders?
A: Reach out to women and listen to all the perspectives on balancing family and career. Your heart and likely your career will grow.