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Ibrahim H, Abdel-Razig S, Stadler DJ, Cofrancesco J, Archuleta S. Assessment of Gender Equity Among Invited Speakers and Award Recipients at US Annual Medical Education Conferences. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(11):e1916222. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16222
Gender inequity in academic medicine persists despite decades of studies highlighting disparities in salary, publications, and academic rank and implementation of initiatives to improve the representation of women.1 Gender inequity has also been demonstrated in awards and speaker opportunities at major specialty-specific conferences.2,3 As medical education grows as a discipline, medical education conferences are increasing in number and attendance. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) annually host the premier conferences focusing on undergraduate and postgraduate medical education in the United States. We examined these conferences to assess gender parity over the past decade in the number of invited speakers and award recipients.
In this cross-sectional study, award recipients (AAMC 2009-2018 and ACGME 2010-2019) and invited plenary and keynote speakers (2010-2019) were identified through online searches of conference websites, brochures, and annual reports. Gender was analyzed using the validated online Gender Balance Assessment Tool, which uses the genderize.io algorithm to estimate the probability that a given name belongs to a woman.4 Where the result of the Gender Balance Assessment Tool was inconclusive (4 instances of initials and 3 foreign names), we determined gender from photos and pronouns used on conference materials. For speaker data, we excluded session chairs, nonplenary panels, and preconference and postconference sessions. For award data, we excluded groups, posters, and women-only categories. Proportions of women were compared using Fisher exact test (speakers) and χ2 test (awardees). Statistical significance was set at 2-tailed P < .05. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine institutional review board deemed this study exempt as the data analyzed were publicly available. Reporting of this study follows the relevant portions of the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) reporting guideline.
In the 10-year period and 20 conferences studied, 12 of 41 invited plenary and keynote speakers (29%) were women (Table 1). This did not significantly differ by conference. Women were underrepresented across all award categories, accounting for 53 of 193 total recipients (27%) (Table 2). Proportions of female awardees were similar in both the AAMC and ACGME conferences (difference, 2.0% [95% CI −12.0% to 14.4%]; P = .77). Women were most represented in the AAMC Arnold P. Gould Foundation Humanism in Medicine (4 [40%]) and ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead (11 [38%]) awards. They were least represented in the AAMC Alpha Omega Alpha Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teacher award (8 [20%]).
Based on data from 2 prestigious conferences, significant gender inequity exists in speaking opportunities and recognition of medical educators. Less than one-third of plenary speakers and award recipients were women, while in the corresponding decade, women medical school faculty increased from 36% to 41%.5 Our data fit a larger pattern of documented gender differences in speakerships and award presentations at specialty-specific meetings.
The relatively higher representation of women awardees in humanism is not unexpected, as studies confirm that women are more likely to receive awards related to teaching and humanism and less likely to be recognized for distinction in research or leadership.6 We are therefore encouraged by the higher percentage of women recipients of the ACGME Courage to Lead award, which may increase mentorship and role modeling opportunities for female trainees. Study limitations include the genderize.io algorithm’s tendency to overestimate the percentage of women and only recognize binary genders.
Medical education conferences afford visibility and serve as important forums to disseminate scholarly work. Presenting and receiving recognition at national meetings are hallmarks of academic success and important factors for promotion of medical educators. As these conferences are attended by learners, leaders, and educators of future generations of physicians, award recipients and key speakerships affect more than just the individual. The public and visual recognition sends a powerful message of what and whom academic medicine considers important. Selection choices can encourage diversity and inclusivity or reinforce a culture of gender inequity in academic medicine as a whole. Increased representation of women in key speakerships and awards at major medical education conferences provides an important opportunity that can be systematically targeted. Medical education can, and should, lead the way in promoting gender equity.
Accepted for Publication: October 7, 2019.
Published: November 27, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.16222
Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2019 Ibrahim H et al. JAMA Network Open.
Corresponding Author: Sophia Archuleta, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases, 1E Kent Ridge Rd, NUHS Tower Block, Level 10, Singapore 119228, Singapore (email@example.com).
Author Contributions: Drs Ibrahim and Archuleta had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.
Concept and design: Ibrahim, Stadler, Cofrancesco, Archuleta.
Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Ibrahim, Abdel-Razig, Cofrancesco, Archuleta.
Drafting of the manuscript: Ibrahim, Abdel-Razig, Stadler, Archuleta.
Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Stadler, Cofrancesco, Archuleta.
Statistical analysis: Abdel-Razig.
Administrative, technical, or material support: Stadler, Cofrancesco, Archuleta.
Supervision: Cofrancesco, Archuleta.
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.
Additional Contributions: Siok Ching Chia, BS, National University Hospital, contributed to data collection. She did not receive financial compensation for her contribution.