The GWHI participated in the Women In PT Summit again in 2018 and was pleased to represent the foundation as a Gold-level sponsor. We also held a scholarship award contest for a PT or PTA to become the first ambassador for the GWHI for the 2018-19 year. This year’s scholarship winner was Julia Rosenthal and she is joining the team to help represent the foundation at conferences and through the Section on Women’s Health. Julia and I attended the conference together and provided great information to the attendees about the work of GWHI. In addition to the conference, we launched another online auction in September/October that raised over $1,200 dollars for the foundation.
The conference theme this year included many talks about empowerment and diversity. I was able to sit amongst some very strong women of different faiths and colors and learned so much from sharing experiences. Did you know that one of the first African American Physical Therapists, Bessie Blount Griffin (1914 – 2009) passed away quietly without any acknowledgment from the American Physical Therapy Association? I had never seen her picture or know of her wonderful inventions and work as a PT and a forensic scientist. Please read about her here in this wonderful blog post.
My takeaway plan of action from the Summit is “Intentional Inclusion”. I have spent much time reflecting on “talking the talk” and how that must translate from talk to action – “walking the walk”. It is great to spread the word about diversity and the challenges of minority women vs. actually working towards changing the landscape. The profession of Physical Therapy is definitely female-dominant, and much work needs to be done for fostering female leadership. However, if we look at the changing demographics of our population, our profession also lacks the diversity that should be present across the scope of our country. Many young people of color are seeking out healthcare-related fields such as medicine and research, but many of them do not know or are not exposed to Physical Therapy as a profession from a young age. We all have a call to action for creating positive exposure to this amazing profession and to help understand and neutralize some of the social determinants that may keep them from succeeding. Diversity within a profession will only strengthen its influence to transform society by optimizing the human movement system.
Our work with the GWHI is global as well as local, and I believe we can make some small differences here in the US and in our diverse communities by exposing and supporting these young people in our profession.