Dr. Carol Nadelson was first woman president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), first woman editor-in-chief of the APA Press, and first director of Partners Office for Women's Careers at Brigham and Women's Hospital. As a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and Brigham and Women's Hospital's expert on promoting academic medical careers for women, she has had a major influence on the lives of women in medicineby advancing the cause of women's mental health and by leading the office for the professional development, career planning, and mentoring of women on the hospital staff.
Carol Cooperman was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1936. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brooklyn College in 1957 and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society at University of Rochester Medical School in 1961. From 1979 to 1993, she was vice chair of the Department of Psychiatry at New England Medical Center, Boston. She has been clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School since 1995.
In the early 1960s, when Dr. Nadelson began practicing psychiatry, the second wave of feminism was bringing new perspectives to issues of women's health. Her early involvement in the women's movement helped fuel her drive to change the approach to women's mental health. At the time, sexist attitudes toward womenas patients and as physicianswas all too common, and women physicians were still relatively rare. Furthermore, too much of the treatment for mental disorders had been based on studies of white males. Today, it is mandatory in the United States when seeking medical research grants to use both female and male subjects or to specify why a study does not.
As director of the Partner's Office for Women's Careers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dr. Nadelson has developed strategies to help women physicians build successful careers and advance professionally. Overcoming the hurdles she encountered early in her own career "helped her to learn to take risks, to weather disappointments, and to rejoice in successes." She also believes in problem solving through consensus building. She argues that gender bias is ingrained in "unconscious resistance on both sides." Male chiefs of departments don't pick women for major positions because "they don't think of it," and women, in turn, "don't think to promote themselves, or they don't know how to."
Her efforts to bridge the gap include promoting qualified women as candidates for job openings, placing women in leadership positions on search committees recruiting for employees, celebrating women's achievements, and championing issues that help level the playing field for men and women, by accommodating the needs of women with children, for example. She meets regularly with division chiefs, chairs, and search committees to identify women with the greatest potential for leadership positions. In 1985 Dr. Nadelson became the first woman elected president of the American Psychiatric Association. That same year, she received the Elizabeth Blackwell Award for "contributions to the cause of women in the field of medicine." In 2002, she was honored with the Alexandra Symonds Award for sustained, high-level contributions to the field of psychiatry and significant leadership in advancing women's health. She has served as president and CEO of the American Psychiatric Association Press, president of the Association for Academic Psychiatry, and of the Group for Advancement of Psychiatry.