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CORRESPONDENCE

Visibility of Women at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meetings Increasing Over Time

Jansson-Knodell, Claire L. MD1; Bhavsar-Burke, Indira MD1; Gayam, Swapna MD2; Kothari, Shivangi MD, FACG, FASGE3; Oxentenko, Amy S. MD, FACG4

Author Information
The American Journal of Gastroenterology: June 11, 2021 - Volume - Issue - 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001345
doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001345
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We read with interest “Equal Opportunity: Women Representation on Editorial Boards and Authorship of Editorials in Gastroenterology and Hepatology Journals” by Subramaniam et al. (1) The authors determined the sex of editorial board members from 1985 to 2020 to find that the proportion of women board members increased from 2.9% to 19.8% over the study period (1). They similarly demonstrated that women authors of editorials grew from 0% to 22.2% (1). We commend the authors for highlighting the positive trend in the proportion of women represented and noting that further work is needed.

We performed an analysis of the visibility of women at the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) annual meetings to uncover parallel findings. Gastroenterology has historically been male-dominated. Women currently make up 34.1% of gastroenterology fellows, 19.5% of the ACG physician members, and 17.6% of practicing gastroenterologists (2,3). Gender inequality exists in public speaking, with fewer women speakers at medical conferences (4). Academic conferences like, editorial board membership or editorial authorship, are a valuable opportunity for external recognition to support faculty promotion, role-modeling, mentorship, career development, and research exposure while also fostering the next generation's interest in gastroenterology. We aimed to describe the trend of women faculty at national ACG meetings over the last decade.

Sex of invited Post-Graduate Course and Annual Meeting faculty from the 2010–2019 annual ACG meetings was collected from printed and online materials and the ACG database. Faculty was defined as all invited lecturers which included named lecturers, simultaneous session speakers, and moderators. Oral abstract presenters were excluded because they were selected based on the science submitted. Gender determination was made using a validated online gender balance assessment tool, genderize.io algorithm, which provides the probability that a given name is for a man or woman (5). For names with <90% probability, sex was confirmed with an online search of name and credentials, reviewing pronouns used in biographic materials and pictures when available. The Cochran-Armitage test for trend was used for statistical analysis to describe findings over time.

The proportion of women serving as Post-Graduate Course faculty increased from 11.7% to 30.5% (P = 0.0003) and Annual Scientific Meeting faculty from 14.1% to 45.4% (P < 0.0001) between 2010 and 2019 (Figure 1). The percentage of women as named lecturers, arguably the most prestigious speaking engagement (P = 0.19), did not change during the study period. However, the percentage of women speakers significantly increased overall over the last decade at ACG meetings.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.:
Line graph and corresponding data table for percentage of women faculty at the American College of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting. ACG, American College of Gastroenterology.

As visibility increases, younger women physicians can derive inspiration. The increasing number of women gastroenterologists in training necessitates more visibility of women in leadership positions at conferences and on editorial boards. Public recognition sends a message as to what issues and which groups or individuals gastroenterology considers important—selection choices support diversity. Tactics like including women on conference planning committees have been shown to increase the representation of women, and the same may be true for editorial boards (4). The trends on speaker and editorial board demographics are positive, and ongoing initiatives are obligatory to ensure these trends continue.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Guarantor of the article: Amy S. Oxentenko, MD, FACG.

Specific author contributions: Study concept (C.L.J.-K., I.B.-B., S.G., S.K., A.S.O.); Data acquisition (C.L.J.-K., I.B.-B.); Statistical analysis (I.B.-B.); Data interpretation (C.L.J.-K., I.B.-B., S.G., S.K., A.S.O.); Article writing (C.L.J.-K., I.B.-B., S.G., S.K., A.S.O.); Critical revision of article (C.L.J.-K., I.B.-B., S.G., S.K., A.S.O.); Study supervision (A.S.O.).

Financial support: None to report.

Potential competing interests: None to report.

REFERENCES

1. Subramaniam M, Azad N, Wasan SK, et al. Equal opportunity: Women representation on editorial boards and authorship of editorials in gastroenterology and hepatology journals. Am J Gastroenterol 2021;116(3):613–6.
2. American Board of Internal Medicine. Resident and Fellow Workforce Data (https://www.abim.org/about/statistics-data/resident-fellow-workforce-data/first-year-fellows-by-gender-type-of-medical-school-attended.aspx). Accessed June 8, 2021.
3. Association of American Medical Colleges. Active physicians by sex and specialty (https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/interactive-data/active-physicians-sex-and-specialty-2017) (2017). Accessed June 8, 2021.
4. Arora A, Kaur Y, Dossa F, et al. Proportion of female speakers at academic medical conferences across multiple specialties and regions. JAMA Netw Open 2020;3:e2018127.
5. Wais K. Gender prediction methods based on first names with genderizeR. R J 2016;8:17–37.
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