Skip to main content

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, marking the 101st year since women in the United States prevailed in securing the right to vote. It’s a day for celebrating the gains we’ve made toward gender equality — and for recognizing all the work we still have to do.

While the passage of the 19th Amendment was a victory, it was only a partial one. It did not provide all women with equal voting rights. Black women were often denied the right to vote. Native American women had to win voting rights on a state-by-state basis, which took until the 1960s. Asian American women couldn’t vote until 1952.

While women have long fought for and continue to get closer to equal rights, we’re still not there yet. Few women hold leadership positions in government, universities or businesses. Women still make less money than men for doing the same work, with Black and Hispanic women making significantly less.

While there is still much progress to make across the country, we’re proud that women at UW Medicine are making change right now. Today, we want to shine light on some of the work they’re doing to increase opportunities for women and make our local communities and communities around the world more equitable.


Paula Houston works to advance healthcare equity

On July 1, Paula Houston, EdD, was named chief equity officer for the new Office of Healthcare Equity. She is working on bringing anti-racism training to all UW Medicine employees, increasing equity for patients and expanding UW Medicine’s role as an activist and social justice organization in the community.

Estell Williams mentors students of color

Estell Williams, MD, a surgeon at UW Medical Center – Montlake, mentors medical students of color and participates in outreach programs to give school-aged children of color a chance to learn about careers in medicine. She led a well-attended march against police violence earlier this year and is co-owner of Estelita’s Library, an anti-racism and social justice-focused library and community space.

Sharona Gordon helps prevent sexual harassment

As a mentor and researcher, Sharona Gordon, PhD, a physiologist, hopes to inspire more women to become interested in careers in science. She also founded an organization called Below the Waterline, through which she helps educate others about sexual harassment.

Leeya Pinder fights for women’s lives

Leeya Pinder, MD, a gynecologic oncologist, knows a woman’s race, socioeconomic status or country of origin should make no difference in the quality of medical care she receives. As a provider and researcher, Pinder works to make healthcare more equitable for all women.

Kristina Adams Waldorf works to protect pregnant women

As a researcher, Kristina Adams Waldorf, MD, an OB-GYN, studies how viruses such as Zika can complicate pregnancies. She hopes to learn more about how to keep women safe and ensure they deliver healthy babies. She also serves as a mentor to women in STEM.

Do you know of an incredible woman at UW Medicine whose work we should feature? Send us your article ideas.