Women in Medicine, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in the U.S. healthcare system, along with Meeting Achievements, a full-service CME meeting-management and instructional-design firm, announced in February a new speakers bureau as a resource for conference organizers, research labs, and other organizations to find female experts across healthcare.
Citing a recent study that found women account for just 30 percent of all academic conference speakers—and that nearly 40 percent of panels were comprised entirely of men—WIM Speakers Bureau aims to properly balance women’s contributions to the field of healthcare. To wit: women make up 70 percent of the healthcare workforce and presently outnumber men in medical schools.
Speaking of balance, other data from the U.K. Society for Endocrinology’s annual conference shows that even when meetings have roughly equal numbers of male and female delegates, women attendees participate less and tend to ask fewer and shorter questions. But a simple intervention improved things: When conference organizers were asked to have more female session chairs, and those chairs were asked to invite opening questions from women wherever possible, questions from women rose to 35 percent versus 24 percent the previous year.
Even the Covid pandemic has had an effect on women’s visibility in the medical field and at its educational events. “The pandemic threatens to set back women in medicine for years to come, as more have been forced to leave the workforce and disproportionately shoulder the burdens” that have come from two years of upheaval, said Dr. Shikha Jain, founder of WIM and assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the University of Illinois Cancer Center. “One way to combat the widening gender gap is to amplify women’s voices in the public sphere and showcase their thought leadership.”
WIM Speakers Bureau is a database of female medical professionals, which interested parties can filter by subject-matter expertise, availability, languages spoken, and other criteria.
Dr. Eve Bloomgarden, an endocrinologist and chief development officer of WIM, adds that “rather than simply relying on existing personal networks, individuals and institutions can use the speakers bureau to be more intentional about whom they offer opportunities to, and thus empower women’s voices.”
Those who wish to register with WIM’s bureau as a speaker can fill out an application and choose a membership plan on the bureau’s website.