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Career, family balance for Woman of Year

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Geula Gibori
Photo: Roberta Dupuis-Devlin
Juggling a career and family is difficult. But Geula Gibori, this year’s Woman of the Year, has managed to find balance in her life.

Gibori, professor of physiology and biophysics, has spent 25 years as a scientific researcher, a profession traditionally dominated by men.

Not that she sees that as necessarily a problem.

“I was lucky to be in a department with many successful women and in an area of research, reproductive endocrinology, dominated by women,” she said. “I even think that in some cases, being a woman was an asset.”

When Gibori joined UIC in 1976 as an assistant professor, it was a difficult time for women in the sciences, said Josephine Miller, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

“Geula joined the department of physiology at a time when very few women were faculty members in the College of Medicine — even women’s bathrooms were hard to find,” Miller said.

“It takes toughness and persistence to create the scientific respect and credibility that Geula has earned during her career.”

Gibori was nominated for the award, bestowed by the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women, because of her service to women and her talent for mentorships that encourage women to succeed.

“Not only has she excelled in research, teaching and service, but she has created an environment around her which has fostered both faculty and students alike,” said Kate Barany, professor emerita of physiology and biophysics and 1996 Woman of the Year.

“Many women have been encouraged by her example of combining motherhood with a successful academic career.”

Gibori advises young women to target their goals without getting hung up on gender issues.

“Forget that you are a woman, while remembering to be a woman,” she said. “But do not give up the benefits of being a woman, like motherhood.

“Many of the women in science used to hide their femininity to fit in better with men,” she said. “For years I was the only woman wearing heels in my department.”

Over the years Gibori has observed the changing attitudes of, and toward, women in the sciences.

“When I first joined UIC and was asked to serve on committees, I felt like a token,” she said. “There were fewer women in visible positions.

“Nowadays, women are better organized and the higher administration is much more sensitive to women’s issues.”

Child care remains an important issue, said Gibori, who has three adult sons.

“Much effort needs to be invested to find the care that can provide peace of mind and allow a young woman faculty member to invest the time needed to build a successful career.”

When Gibori is not working, she is traveling, entertaining friends or going to the theater. She returns from a sabbatical in Paris to receive her award Monday.

“I spend a great deal of time with my family,” she said. “Our three boys live around us and I am learning to be a grandmother.”

Gibori credits her parents for “instilling the idea that every person needed a career.”

She also credits support from the men in her life for helping her become successful.

“My husband never said no to anything related to my career, whether it be crossing an ocean or the hours I spent out of the house,” she said. “My three boys should be mentioned for not giving me an ounce of guilt for working.

“In fact, all four of my men are the best cheerleading squad anyone could hope for.”

Gibori will be honored at a luncheon Monday from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Illinois Room, Chicago Circle Center. For more information call 413-1025 or email hanant1@uic.edu

Related stories
Medicine gets $7 million grant for fertility center (03/06/02)

Geula Gibori: known for her mentoring (02/04/04)

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