|LETTER TO EDITOR
|Year : 2022 | Volume
| Issue : 2 | Page : 200-201
Comment to “Does gender gap exist in indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences” by Mohansundaram et al.
Sahla Sathar1, Nivedita Jha2, Molly Mary Thabah1
1 Department of Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry, India
|Date of Submission||27-Jun-2021|
|Date of Acceptance||28-Jun-2021|
|Date of Web Publication||03-May-2022|
Dr. Molly Mary Thabah
Department of Medicine, Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry -605 006
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Sathar S, Jha N, Thabah MM. Comment to “Does gender gap exist in indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences” by Mohansundaram et al. Indian J Rheumatol 2022;17:200-1
|How to cite this URL:|
Sathar S, Jha N, Thabah MM. Comment to “Does gender gap exist in indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences” by Mohansundaram et al. Indian J Rheumatol [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 4];17:200-1. Available from: https://www.indianjrheumatol.com/text.asp?2022/17/2/200/344588
We read with interest the paper, “Does gender gap exist in Indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences” by Mohansundaram et al. This paper brings to attention the under-representation of women as faculty in the Indian Rheumatology Association's National-Level Annual Conference. The authors found that women constituted only 20% of the faculty (speaker, panelist, or chairperson). The authors have aptly discussed that this issue of gender disparity in medical conferences exists all across the world spanning medical specialties even in the most advanced nations. The proportion of women in surgery specialties, particularly neurosurgery, suggests that even participation of women in conferences is almost nil. Two questions came to our mind: (1) What was the proportion of women who were keynote speaker or plenary speaking role? (2) What was the proportion of women in leadership roles such as in the organizing committee or subcommittee? The reasons for underrepresentation of women in medical conferences are not clear. It is speculated that it is low self-esteem; in others, it is plain discrimination that causes less participation of women. However, recently, there has been an improvement in trends with more representation of women in the poster presentation categories and as faculty. An analysis of the EULAR 2018 and 2019 meetings showed that the proportion of women as invited speaker improved from 31% in 2018 to 43% in 2019.
Our institute is in the forefront of undergraduate medical education in India, and three large conferences for medical undergraduate students have been conducted. Of 26 faculty who were speakers in the 2017 conference, only one (3.8%) was a woman faculty. The proportion of women as faculty improved to 13.3% and 15.3% in 2018 and 2019, respectively. In all the 3 years, there were no women chairpersons. However, it was encouraging to see that in the poster presentation by students in the original article and case report category, the proportion of girls was 47.1% and 60.3% in 2018 and 62.1% and 53.7% in 2019, respectively. Again, in the oral clinical case presentation in 2019, the proportion of girls was higher (62.7%). Hence, we think that one step toward bridging this gender disparity is by encouraging women speakers at the undergraduate level, giving positive and constructive feedback to the speakers, and offering coaching for new speakers. Secondly we suggest that more women must be included in the organizing and planning committees of conferences. Some other measures that conference organizers can take to create a woman-friendly conference is provision of childcare facilities at conference venues. Fourth, online participation is another option to increase female representation in a conference. With growing concern and awareness, what we can do is strive for a better representation in conferences, after all everyone's input is valuable. To quote Michelle Obama, “No country can every truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contribution of half its citizens.”
We thank Director JIPMER for giving us the permission to use information from the institutes's website.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Mohansundaram K, Sowndhariya VA, Ravindran V. Does gender gap exist in Indian rheumatology? Analysis of faculty gender representation at its annual conferences. Indian J Rheumatol 2021;16:248-53. [Full text]
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.
Silva N, Cerasiello S, Semonche A, Sotayo A, Luis J, Shao B, et al.
Gender representation at neurological surgery conferences. World Neurosurg 2019;129:453-9.
Conigliaro P, Bosello SL, Iannuccelli C, Gremese E, Spinelli FR, Vadacca M, et al.
Correspondence to 'Gender gap in rheumatology: speaker representation at annual conferences' by Monga and Liew-gender discrepancies at annual EULAR congresses: towards the gap narrowing. Ann Rheum Dis. 2020:annrheumdis-2020-218516. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2020-218516. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32753419.