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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 364

Narrowing the gender gap: Will Indian rheumatology pave the way?

1 Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, St John's Medical College, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Samarpan Arthritis and Rheumatology Center, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission18-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance27-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication21-Sep-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Benzeeta Pinto
Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, St John's Medical College, Sarjapur Road, Bengaluru - 560 034, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/injr.injr_124_21

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How to cite this article:
Pinto B, Mahendranath K M. Narrowing the gender gap: Will Indian rheumatology pave the way?. Indian J Rheumatol 2021;16:364

How to cite this URL:
Pinto B, Mahendranath K M. Narrowing the gender gap: Will Indian rheumatology pave the way?. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 6];16:364. Available from:

Dear Editor,

The article on gender gap in Indian Rheumatology by Mohansundaram et al. is indeed a wake-up call.[1] As scientists and researchers, we are often reliant on numbers to prove what is already glaring at is. The gender gap in the faculty representation at Indian Rheumatology association conferences is therefore not surprising. Similar trends have been noted in most other specialties from other countries as well.[2] It has been noticed in some specialties that the speaker gender proportion was just a reflection of the gender imbalance in the workforce.[2] Just looking at the numbers may suggest this is the case with IRA as well. In the past 10 years, only 4 women have given orations compared to 25 male speakers. The women on their part are often reluctant to apply for orations despite being qualified and deserving. The disparity is driven not just by discriminatory practices but also perception biases several of which are subconscious. For instance, women are also more likely to decline speaker invitations, ask for less while negotiating salary, and use tentative rather than assertive language as compared to men.[3] The first step toward any possible solutions is the cognizance of the problem.[4] The repercussions of such gender disparity are manifold. The lack of recognition of qualified women contributes to what is called the “Matilda effect” which in turn discourages women in pursuing higher education.[3] Inclusion of female faculty in the planning committee is associated with increased representation of female speakers and may be one of the remedial measures.[4] Mentorship programs for young women faculty and trainees by senior faculty members should also be considered. Indeed, increasing the visibility of women at conferences will also serve as an encouragement for more young women to choose rheumatology. Every professional organization is a reflection of the society at large with Indian Rheumatology Association being no exception. There is, however, a silver lining. The increase in the number of women opting for rheumatology as represented by the number of new inductees and also the increase in the number of women in abstract presenters indicate a changing trend.[1] Education is considered the path to enlightenment and empowerment, and hence, the onus is on us to pave the way for a larger change. With the increasing number of bright, motivated, and assertive young women in our organization, we hope that they will soon begin to get their due.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mohansundaram K, Sowndhariya VA, Ravindran V. Does gender gap exist in Indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences. Indian J RheumatolEpub ahead of print. [doi: 10.4103/injr.injr_33_21].  Back to cited text no. 1
Arora A, Kaur Y, Dossa F, Nisenbaum R, Little D, Baxter NN. Proportion of female speakers at academic medical conferences across multiple specialties and regions. JAMA Netw Open 2020;3:e2018127.  Back to cited text no. 2
Jones TM, Fanson KV, Lanfear R, Symonds MR, Higgie M. Gender differences in conference presentations: A consequence of self-selection? PeerJ 2014;2:e627.  Back to cited text no. 3
Klein RS, Voskuhl R, Segal BM, Dittel BN, Lane TE, Bethea JR, et al. Speaking out about gender imbalance in invited speakers improves diversity. Nat Immunol 2017;18:475-8.  Back to cited text no. 4


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