Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Women Opting Out

Women Opting Out

More From Shirley

In this video

Tilghman considers why a sizable percentage of women with advanced degrees, especially MBAs, still drop out of the workforce.

Shirley's Biography

Cause of Choice: Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA)
Proudest Accomplishment: “Raising my children well.”
World-class Teacher: After college, she spent two years teaching high school in a small village in Sierra Leone, Africa. 
Greatest Influences Never Met: Matt Messelson and Frank Stahl, authors of “one of the greatest papers of the 20th century on how DNA replicates.”  Reading that paper in college set Tilghman on her path to becoming a geneticist. 

In 2001, Shirley Tilghman became the first woman president of Princeton University, and only the second female president in the Ivy League.  Her appointment capped her prodigious career as a celebrated teacher, world-renowned scholar, and pioneer in molecular biology.
Tilghman's decades of research in genetics focused on the regulation of genes during development, particularly in the field of genomic imprinting. During her postdoctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health, she made a number of groundbreaking discoveries while participating in cloning the first mammalian gene. She continued to make scientific breakthroughs as an independent investigator at the Institute for Cancer Research in Philadelphia, and as an adjunct associate professor of Human Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania. She served as a member of the committee that set the blueprint for the U.S. effort in the Human Genome Project and of the National Advisory Council that oversaw the initiative at the National Institutes of Health.
 
She was recruited to Princeton’s faculty in 1986, and in 1998, founded its world-class genetics institute, the multi-disciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. From 1993 through 2000, Tilghman chaired Princeton's Council on Science and Technology, which encourages the teaching of science and technology to students outside the sciences and she initiated the Princeton Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship. In 1996, she received Princeton's President's Award for Distinguished Teaching.  
 
Throughout her career, Tilghman has been an impassioned advocate and activist for the promotion of women in science, and efforts to make the early careers of young scientists as meaningful and productive as possible. In 2002, Tilghman was one of five winners of the L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. The following year, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Developmental Biology, and in 2007, she was awarded the Genetics Society of America Medal for outstanding contributions to her field. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the Royal Society of London. She serves as a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and as a director of Google Inc.

Related Videos

Carol Burnett
Carol Burnett
First Woman Variety Show Host

A child of Hollywood, but not of means, Carol Burnett had to fight her way into the playwright program at UCLA. An acting class was a requirement and Burnett would always remember ...

Alexis Maybank & Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Alexis Maybank & Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Retail Entrepreneurs

Long time friends Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson are two of the founding partners of Gilt Groupe. Launched in 2007, the ecommerce startup specializes in bringing luxury...

Gabrielle Giffords
Gabrielle Giffords
Former Congresswoman (D-Arizona)

Former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords became known for her resilience in the face of violence after a shooting at a local event that left six dead and Giffords with severe ...

Mae Jemison
Mae Jemison
First African-American Woman in Space

Growing up in the southside of Chicago, Mae Jemison was always curious about space. After graduating from Stanford University, she became a medical doctor and worked in Liberia and...