Here at sheMD, we believe in the importance of practicing Evidence-Based Medicine. We believe the same principles apply to discussing Gender and Medical Education. Therefore, we are bringing you an entire Journal Club series! Our series will focus on foundational and new literature within the gender and medicine space.
Today, we will be discussing the article entitled, What Emergency Medicine Rewards: Is There Implicit Gender Bias in National Awards? by Sara M Krzyzaniak 1, Michael Gottlieb 2, Melissa Parsons 3, Nicole Rocca 4, Teresa M Chan 5
Why is this article important?
Medical societies provide career and leadership development opportunities for physicians. Prior to this study, a gap in awards given by medical societies was shown in multiple studies and fields of medicine, including PM&R, physiatry, and our most recent JC post across multiple specialties. Female physicians received less awards than expected based on the proportion of women practicing in the specialty. These societies are often called the “gatekeepers” to professional and career development resources that physicians need to succeed and advance in their careers. So looking at how these societies are awarding their members and how they may be contributing to career advancement is important as we try to decrease the leadership gap in medicine.
This study, conducted by one of our SheMD Founders, adds to the literature on this subject by looking at the awards given by Emergency Medicine national medical societies in the USA and Canada.
What they looked at:
This study looked at the awards given by 5 different national medical societies in the USA and Canada during a 5 year period.
How they measured things:
A list of all major emergency medicine organizations in the United States and Canada was compiled including the American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians (CAEP), the Council of Emergency Medicine Residency Directors (CORD), and the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM). All awards offered by each of these 5 organizations were included for analysis. Awards for sections/subgroups (such as the Academy for Women in Academic Emergency Medicine) were not included. Awards that were available to only one sex or awarded exclusively to resident physicians were also excluded. Award recipient gender was based on personal knowledge of the recipient or his or her online faculty profile and pronoun usage.
What were their outcomes:
Women in Emergency Medicine were NOT underrepresented in total percentages of awards given. Females received 28% of awards in Emergency Medicine from 2014 to 2018. This was proportional to the 27% of women in Emergency Medicine. YAY!
We still see some disparities. Specifically, women were less likely to received prestigious “named” awards and women were less likely to have awards named after them. In fact, there are only three national EM awards named after women, and two of the three are Canadian awards.
We also see disparities between early and late career awards with women receiving more early-career awards and men receiving more late-career awards.
Why do we care about this article?
What does this mean?
Awards are a component of the promotion process for members of academic medicine. For those not in academic medicine, awards can also have a significant impact on the professional development of physicians. The underrepresentation of women receiving societal awards can negatively impact promotion and career growth and thus contribute to the leadership gap we see in medicine. It is important to see these gaps improve in specialties over time, which EM shows. We still see some disparities, which are areas to grow in terms of early vs late career awards and named awards to create gender equity.
This study only looked back at the last 5 years, during which, Emergency medicine had very active groups pushing gender equity. If we looked back over 10 or 15 years, we would most likely see significant gaps that had improved over time. The data even from these five years shows an increasing trend in the percentage of women receiving awards, which is great.
How does this apply to us?
We, as SheMDs, should be aware that a leadership gap in medicine exists. Women make up 50% of matriculants in medical school, however they make up less than 20% of deans of medical schools and department chairs. Ensuring gender equity in the components of promotion, including awards may help us to tackle the leadership gap. We should actively work to be involved in our medical societies, taking on committee chair positions, nominating one another for achievement awards, and working to promote gender equity. We can get involved in awards committees to create new awards named after women or to implement equitable selection processes. Our #HeForSheMD’s can also work to promote women in their medical societies and choose women that are well-deserving of awards or leadership positions in order to move the needle on equality.
Take Home Point
Recognize that this gap exists.
Get involved in your medical society. Join the awards committee. Nominate female colleagues for awards and promote gender equity.
For further reading on the topic, check out these articles!
Silver JK, Blauwet CA, Bhatnagar S, et al. Women Physicians Are Underrepresented in Recognition Awards From the Association of Academic Physiatrists. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2018;97(1):34-40. doi:10.1097/PHM.0000000000000792
Silver, Julie K., et al. "Female physicians are underrepresented in recognition awards from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation." PM&R 9.10 (2017): 976-984.
Silver JK, Slocum CS, Bank AM, et al. Where Are the Women? The Underrepresentation of Women Physicians Among Recognition Award Recipients From Medical Specialty Societies. PM&R. 2017;9(8):804-815. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2017.06.001