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SheMD Journal Club: Where Are The Women?

Where Are The Women?
The Underrepresentation of Women Physicians Among Recognition Award Recipients From Medical Specialty Societies.

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.

Why is this article important?

Medical specialty society membership can have an impact on the development of an academic physician’s career through networking, speaking opportunities, and awards. Underrepresentation of female faculty members may be an obstacle to career advancement in academic medicine.

Article Summary

What they looked at: This study looked at underrepresentation of female physicians compared with their presence in the specific field across a variety of fields. In other words, they compared the percent of women receiving awards to the percent of women practicing in that specific specialty. They included dermatology, neurology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, PM&R, neurosurgery, plastic surgery, physiatry and anesthesiology in the study.

How they measured things: The study measured the number of female vs male award recipients from published recognition award lists from medical specialty societies in 2017.

What were their outcomes: For every specialty that was assessed, there was an uneven distribution of award recipients in comparison to the percentage of female active physicians in the specialty. Several of the specialties had zero female award recipients.

Why do we care about this article?

What does this mean?

The study found noticeable underrepresentation of women physicians when compared to the percent of women in active practice or compared to the percent of women in accredited resident/fellowship programs nationally.

How does this apply to us?

We, as SheMDs, should be aware that this discrepancy exists. 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. 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

Physician specialty organizations can have an influence on medical education and can use their infrastructure to support career development and reduce gender bias and support the entire physician workforce, including women.

Similar Articles

For further reading on the topic, check out these articles!

  • Howell LP. Gender Disparities in Recognition Awards From Pathology Societies. Am J Clin Pathol. 2022 Oct 6;158(4):447-448. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/aqac084. PMID: 35932463.

  • Ravioli S, Haidinger M, Exadaktylos AK, Pluess E, Lindner GP. Emergency medicine in Switzerland: an analysis of physician workforce, gender equality and academics. Swiss Med Wkly. 2022 Oct 8;152:40001. doi: 10.57187/smw.2022.40001. PMID: 36306425.

  • Turner SR, Artz JD, Darling GE, Donahoe LL, Kidane B, Seely AJE, Valji RH, Plourde M; Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. Diversity in National Society Leadership and Podium Speakers in Cardiothoracic Surgery. Ann Thorac Surg. 2022 Aug;114(2):561-566. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2022.01.044. Epub 2022 Feb 17. PMID: 35182515.

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