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5 Who Do You Consider Your Mentor(s) During Your Career?

5 Who Do You Consider Your Mentor(s) During Your Career?

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J.M. Ford

game, I had to find colleagues willing to serve as principle investigator on grant

applications I wrote. I did this for decades, until the culture softened and I joined the

faculty. However, even after I was on the faculty and had risen to the rank of full

professor, I continued to face obstacles in the workplace. One Sunday afternoon

before a Monday morning MRI scan of a research participant, an MD in my

department questioned whether I was qualified to do MR scanning because I was

not an MD. He tried hard to shut me down. My department chair came to my rescue

in the nick of time, and I scanned early Monday morning.


What Kept You Going During Difficult Times?

Occasionally, over my long career, I have wondered whether it is all worth it—

feelings of inadequacy fueled by negative reviews of papers, difficulty balancing

work and family, and internecine warfare in the department. At those times when I

got close to quitting, I realized I would miss all the friends and colleagues I had

gotten to know over the years. Although I only saw them once or twice a year, I had

developed strong attachments to them, because we had “grown up together” in the

field. If I quit, I’d never see them again.


What Role (Positive and/or Negative) Did Being

a Woman Play in Your Career?

As an older woman, I recently realized that I am “invisible.” My equally old friends

from high school agree—it does not matter what we do, what we wear, what we

say—we go unnoticed. We are all OK with it, and it is strangely liberating.

However, in thinking about when this “invisibility” started, I realize that even

young women are often unheard, or if heard, they are not given credit for what they

have contributed. The universality of this was apparent when I saw a New Yorker

cartoon, depicting a board meeting with the chairman saying, “That’s an excellent

suggestion, Miss Triggs. Perhaps one of the men here would like to make it.”


How Did You Deal with the Issue

of Work–Family Balance?

I balanced work and family by working part-time and raising my daughters

full-time—a 150 % FTE. I worked part-time for 22 years, from the birth of my

older daughter until my younger daughter left for college. I worked whenever they

were occupied with friends, lessons, sports, music, school, or asleep. When they

were little, struggles at work could not bring me down because of their pervasive


Judith M. Ford


positive energy and my love for them. When they were in high school, I learned that

I was a role model for them. Although it was terrifying to have such an elevated

position in their lives, it made me glad that I had never given up my career, even

when the work–family balance seemed impossible. Going forward, if I ever thought

of throwing in the towel, I could not because I did not want to let them down.


What Would You Do Differently if You Were

to Start Your Career Now?

Two words: day care.


What Advice Would You Give to a Young Woman

Starting her Career Now?

Young women are always advised on how to successfully negotiate with their

department chair, but I think it is just as important for women to figure out how to

negotiate with their husbands for a fair distribution of household and family

responsibilities. Of course, the biological realities of childbirth and infant care can

derail the best-negotiated balance between work and family; it will need to be

renegotiated as soon as it is emotionally and biologically possible.


Ellen Frank

Ellen Frank


Dr. Ellen Frank

Dr. Ellen Frank is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Psychology

at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, USA.

Dr. Frank chaired the U.S. FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Panel and

E. Frank (&)

Department of Psychiatry, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, USA

e-mail: franke@upmc.edu

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

S. Frangou (ed.), Women in Academic Psychiatry,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-32177-6_3



E. Frank

was elected to the National Academy Medicine in 1999. She is internationally

recognized for developing the Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy for Bipolar

Disorder. She is Chief Scientific Officer of HealthRhythms, a health technology

start-up that uses MoodRhythm, a smartphone application based on her research, to

track the mental state of patients in a naturalistic manner.


What Was Your Earliest Ambition?

I do not know that I actually ever thought of myself as ambitious; in retrospect,

though, I always was… and other people saw it. A year or so after my husband

and I got married, he mentioned that he had been voted ‘Most Likely to Succeed’

by his high school class. We did not do that at my high school. Instead, there was

a section of our yearbook entitled ‘The Perfect Senior’, with separate lists for the

perfect boy and girl in terms of the best hair, eyes, smile, athletic ability, etc.

I remembered I’d been on the girls’ list, but I could not remember for what so I

went in search of my yearbook. The answer: Ambition. When I saw that, some

14 years after graduating, it rang true. Throughout grade school and high school,

I’d always looked for some new mountain to climb, a new objective to achieve,

whether it was editor of my grade school newspaper, president of my high school

sorority (yes, we did that back in the late 50s) or acceptance at a Seven Sisters

college. Ambition was so intrinsic to my nature that it never occurred to me that

there was another way to be. My earliest ambition? Probably to become a ballerina; but, by 13 I knew I had neither the right body nor the willingness to give

up every other part of my life, which was looking like what becoming a professional dancer would require.


What Attracted You to Psychiatry?

Maybe the question should be what attracted psychiatry to me. In 1973, becoming

a psychiatric researcher was probably the last thing I’d ever thought I would do.

Then, Thomas Detre brought a team of 27 people from New Haven to Pittsburgh

to form a new, scientific department of psychiatry. At the time, I was hosting a

talk show on women’s issues on a local television station. I invited Carol

Anderson, part of the Yale onslaught, to appear on the show to talk about gender

roles in families. She went back to Tom and said she thought she’d found the

replacement for the research assistant they had been unable to persuade to come

to Pittsburgh (who, by the way, had a talk show on women’s issues on the radio

in New Haven). What they saw in me, I’m not sure, but the rest, as they say, is

history. I was completely and immediately fascinated by the science of psychiatry. Again, in retrospect, that psychiatry was where I belonged should have been

pretty obvious. My very best grades as an undergraduate drama major were in the


Ellen Frank


only three psychology courses I took simply to fulfill our science requirement.

Once landed in psychiatric research, I found myself totally in my element. I loved

the patients, the questions, the grant writing, the carrying out of studies, the

analysis of the results and the writing of papers.


What Do You Enjoy Most in Your Job Now?

I have just moved to emerita status, so I don’t officially have a ‘job’ anymore.

Nonetheless, I find that what I enjoy most has not changed very much. I am still

involved in a good deal of mentoring of young people and enjoy talking with them

both about research design and analysis issues and about research career survival

skills, including how best to use their time, what to accept and what to turn down,

how to negotiate for what they need to be successful and, yes, how to balance career

goals and personal goals.


Who Do You Consider Your Mentor(s)

During Your Career?

When asked about this, I always make the distinction between mentors and role

models and emphasize how important both have been for me. It is possible for the

same person to be a mentor and a role model, but not at all necessary. Myrna

Weissman has served as a critically important role model since the very first days of

my work as a research assistant and graduate student in the mid-1970s. I saw a woman

who was perfectly and elegantly put together and presented her work with absolute

command of her topic and knew I wanted to be like that. Although Myrna has never

been my mentor in the strictest sense of the word, I have learned volumes about how to

be a woman scientist by staying in close touch with her and watching how she did

things. As to who taught me what to do, much of the credit has to go to the man who

became my husband, David Kupfer. Pretty much everything I know about study

design, grant writing, project and personnel management, negotiating with journal

editors, local and national committee service, I learned from him. Helen Kraemer has

been another key mentor. She continues to teach me how to think through a research

question so that one comes up with the right analytic strategy and that, if that strategy

does not exist, one either needs to rethink the question or invent a new analytic

strategy. Most important, Helen gave me—someone who is seriously mathematically

challenged and cannot think in symbols to save my life—the confidence that I knew

how to do that.



E. Frank

What Was Your Best Career Move?

My best career move was more a gift than a move. When David Kupfer became

chair of psychiatry at Pittsburgh, he asked me to take over as PI of the long-term

maintenance study of depression that we were conducting. It was not where I was

thinking of putting my energy at the time, but it proved to be the starting point for

the series of studies of maintenance treatment for unipolar and bipolar disorders that

have pretty much defined my career. My best move? Not saying ‘no’ to that gift.


What Were The Key Obstacles You Had to Overcome?

I got a late start, entering graduate school at 31, but that was a blessing in some

respects, allowing me to develop as a person and a thinker before I had to compete

in the academic marketplace. If there was an obstacle, I suppose it was people

assuming that I had not really made a meaningful contribution to the studies that my

husband and I had carried out together. Indeed, when I was being considered for

tenure, I received a call from the departmental promotions committee chair asking

me to ‘document my independent contribution’ to those studies. Initially, I felt

insulted. Later, I realized that he and the committee were trying to protect me from

questions that were likely to come up when my promotion went over to the medical

school. In fact, completing that documentation was one of the most satisfying

experiences of my career. It helped me to see with exceptional clarity how critical

my role had been in designing, carrying out and publishing those studies.


What Kept You Going During Difficult Times?

Avoidance and denial: two great defence mechanisms. And, occasionally, fighting

back. When things did not go as I’d hoped, I typically just looked around for the

next thing to take on. Becoming involved in whatever that new challenge was took

my mind off whatever had not gone my way. I can, however, think of a few rejected

papers that turned into publications when I called—not wrote; some things are

better not put on paper—the journal editor and pointed out the clear errors or bias in

the reviews. Once, when I was studying interventions for female rape victims, the

government informed me that they were cutting my grant by some 35 %. I wrote

back to say that I doubted that a similar cut would have been taken from a grant

focused exclusively on men and that, since it would be impossible to carry out the

study with 65 % of the budget, I was returning the money. I was scared to death the

government would actually comply, but my mentors reassured me that it was much

too complicated for them to take back money. It took about a week for them to

restore the cut.


Ellen Frank



What Role (Positive and/or Negative) Did Being

a Woman Play in Your Career?

I loved what Cambridge Professor Mary Beard said, ‘It would be a lie to say that

gender has held me back in my career; but, it has sometimes been a case of feeling

in a foreign country’. Mostly, though, in the department that Tom Detre and David

Kupfer built, women did not need to feel that way. There were lots of other women

around and they were given a great deal of responsibility and respect. It was when I

left our fairly unique environment that it sometimes seemed that I was in a foreign

country. Still, I do not think I felt a need to behave differently there. The confidence

that was instilled in the women in our department served us well when we found

ourselves in those strange lands.


How Did You Deal with the Issue

of Work–Family Balance?

A lot of things helped me in this regard: not needing much sleep, enough resources

to have help in our home, an ex-husband who was devoted to his daughters and

highly collaborative in their upbringing, a husband who encouraged me in all my

career goals and being clear in my own mind that, unless there was an absolutely

incontrovertible deadline, my children came first. In retrospect, for one of my

daughters, this worked out fine. My other daughter really would have liked to have

had a different kind of mother who did not work outside the home, did not travel

and was not so focused on her own goals. It is the one great sadness of my life.


What Would You Do Differently if You

Were to Start Your Career Now?

If I had understood how hard my career was on my younger daughter, I would have

tried to find ways to be more of the kind of mother she wanted. I’m not sure how well

I would have succeeded, but at least I would have tried to be home more often when

she came home from school and to travel less until she had gone off to college.


What Advice Would You Give to a Young

Woman Starting Her Career Now?

I spend a lot of time doing this these days, so what is it that I say? And is it any

different from what I say to the young men I mentor? I tell young people to figure

out what they are passionate about and to pursue those ideas. If a grant application


E. Frank

you’re writing is boring you, write a different one. If you really can not muster the

enthusiasm to respond to the critiques on a paper, just drop it and move on to a

paper you’re excited about. Be as thoughtful, careful and kind in your relationships

with clerical support and cleaning staff as you are with senior faculty members.

These people can often be as critical to your success as your department chair.

Work on forming personal relationships with those who can shepherd your work

along: journal editors, granting agency staff, etc. This may seem an intimidating

prospect, but even these ‘powerful’ people are generally interested in getting to

know those who are intrigued by their work. Go up to them at meetings and

introduce yourself. Start an email dialogue about a question you have about their

work. And to women, specifically? If you are about to have a child, especially a first

one, plan to ease back into work. Nothing can prepare you for how hard it will be to

leave that baby, so do not take all your maternity leave in one continuous

lump. Come back to work earlier than you’d planned, but only two days a week,

then go to three and then finally to five.


Sheila Hollins

Sheila Hollins


Professor Sheila, Baroness Hollins of Wimbledon

and Grenoside

S. Hollins (&)

St. George’s University of London, London, UK

e-mail: hollinss@parliament.uk

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

S. Frangou (ed.), Women in Academic Psychiatry,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-32177-6_4



S. Hollins

Baroness Hollins is emeritus professor of psychiatry of disability at St. George’s

University of London in England, UK. In 2010, she was appointed to the House of

Lords as a cross-bench peer for her innovative research and policy advocacy on the

mental and physical health of individuals with learning disabilities. She is also founder

and chair of Beyond Words, a charity that designs picture books to aid communication

in people with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Hollins chaired the Board of Science at the

British Medical Association until 2016 and is currently president of the College of

Occupational Therapists. She holds an honorary chair in the Department of Theology

and Religion at the University of Durham and has also served as president of both the

British Medical Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.


What Was Your Earliest Ambition?

An early ambition was to be a nurse—I remember the home birth of my younger

brother and the role of the midwife who came to support my mother. I was very

impressed. My parents let me join the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade cadets when I

was still at primary school and I took the exams seriously. When I was 15 my

biology teacher encouraged me to consider medicine instead. I also wanted to be a

musician and to play in the Halle Orchestra. My favourite activity as a young

teenager was to sit behind the orchestra in the choir, watching the conductor closely

and listening to a concert in the Sheffield City Hall! I learned jazz clarinet as well so

would have been thrilled to be in a jazz quartet.


What Attracted You to Psychiatry?

I was curious about other human beings, their decisions and relationships and clearly

remember wanting to know why people are the way they are. In fact I studied very

little psychiatry at my Medical School, St. Thomas’, as I chose to get married during

the psychiatry firm and it was not examined in clinical finals. But as a general

practitioner in South London, I felt ill equipped to respond to my patient’s emotional

and social problems so I took a psychiatry training post for 6 months thinking I

would return to general practice later. Instead I fell in love with the subject,

encouraged by one of my teachers who said my common sense would be useful.


What Do You Enjoy Most in Your Job Now?

In 2010 I was appointed ‘Baroness Hollins’—an independent ‘cross-bench’ peer in

the House of Lords—where I speak mainly on mental health and disability. It

involves me in trying to explain mental health and developmental disability to the

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