Percentage of women presenting at American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meetings at a continuing medical education (CME) session, as a session director, or as a member of the Scientific Assembly Committee compared with the percentage of board-certified women in the dermatology workforce over time.
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Stratman H, Stratman EJ. Assessment of Percentage of Women in the Dermatology Workforce Presenting at American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meetings, 1992-2017. JAMA Dermatol. 2019;155(3):384–386. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.5481
Speaking at major medical society conferences is one form of leadership. Some specialties report speaker gender gaps at national meetings,1-5 an issue not explored in dermatology. We sought to compare the percentage of women presenting at American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meetings with the percentage of board-certified female dermatologists in the United States and to determine factors associated with an increase in female speakers.
Conference programs for 6 AAD Annual Meetings in 5-year increments between 1992 and 2017 were manually reviewed. Abstracted data included meeting year; session type; and presenter, session director, and planning committee names and gender. When gender was unknown, a Google search of the physician’s name plus “dermatologist” was used to access workplace websites seeking pronoun usage for the dermatologist to assign faculty member gender. Analysis was limited to gender-assigned speakers whose degrees included MD or DO. For all session types except focus and plenary sessions, AAD Scientific Assembly Committee (SAC) appoints session directors who secure session presenters. The percentage of active board-certified female dermatologists was determined through gender summary data from the American Board of Dermatology. Data were entered in Excel (Microsoft), and descriptive analyses were performed. Statistical analysis was performed using SAS, with P values derived from Fisher exact test. Threshold significance for 2-sided hypothesis testing was α level .05.
There were 7996 speaker occurrences at these meetings, including 7861 (98.3%) occurrences of gender-assigned and 56 (0.70%) gender-unassigned dermatologist session speakers from 2240 continuing medical education sessions. There were 79 (0.99%) occurrences of speakers whose listed titles did not include MD or DO that were excluded from analysis.
Total and percentage of board-certified women in dermatology grew steadily during the study period, from 1670 (24.0%) women in 1992 to 6360 (52.5%) women in 2017 (Figure and Table). Women presenting at AAD Annual Meetings also increased, from 214 (17.9%) speakers in 1992 to 882 (48.0%) in 2017 (Figure and Table). Growth in percentage of female speakers correlated with growth in percentage of female session directors, who invited women to present at statistically significantly higher rates than male session directors in all years of study (P ≤ .001). Gender composition of the SAC also significantly increased, from 2 of 9 women (22%) at study onset to 8 of 15 women (53%) by study conclusion (Figure).
All session types except plenary sessions experienced growth in the percentage of female presenters (Table). Symposiums experienced the largest total number of women presenting (831), whereas forums had the largest total number of women presenting in a single year (323 in 2017).
By speaking at major medical society conferences, women gain recognition, networking opportunities, and serve as role models for other women.5 These results show that the percentage of women presenting at AAD Annual Meetings has grown to more accurately reflect the percentage of board-certified women in the dermatology workforce. This correlates closely with the SAC inviting more women to serve as session directors. Although men and women invited higher percentages of female speakers over time, women were significantly more likely than men to invite women to speak in all years of the study. This also correlates with increasing numbers of women participating on the SAC.
Limitations of this study include potential program book errors or unaccounted speaker substitutions. We did not analyze gender besides men and women as assigned by names and pronouns. Methods did not account for dermatologists who were not board certified or who did not attend AAD meetings. Not every AAD meeting speaker is a board-certified US dermatologist. Time given to speakers was not analyzed. Other attributes of leadership or scholarship were not factored into the study design.
Over the past 26 years, more women are presenting at AAD Annual Meetings, a finding that is associated with more women directing larger education sessions. Proportional gender representation for session directors and meeting planning committees may aid closure of speaker gender gaps.
Corresponding Author: Erik J. Stratman, MD, Marshfield Clinic Health System – Marshfield Campus, 1000 N Oak Ave, 3P E Wing, Marshfield, WI 54449 (email@example.com).
Published Online: February 6, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.5481
Author Contributions: Dr Stratman and Ms Stratman had full access to all the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Study concept and design: All authors.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.
Drafting of the manuscript: All authors.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.
Study supervision: E. Stratman.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Stratman is President of the American Board of Dermatology and former Chairman of the AAD Scientific Assembly Committee. No other disclosures were reported.
Funding/Support: This research was supported by individual research account funds through Marshfield Clinic Health System (Dr Stratman).
Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funder/supporter had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
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