Identifying Worldwide Barriers For Women in Interventional Cardiology

Identifying barriers and providing potential solutions to empower more women to join interventional cardiology may be crucial in addressing the significant gender disparity within the specialty, according to an article published Nov. 19 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

In Australia and New Zealand, there are limited data available on gender diversity within interventional cardiology. Therefore, Sonya Burgess, MBChB, et al., obtained the total and gender-specific numbers of practicing medical practitioners, vocational trainee doctors, specialists and cardiologists in these two countries. Data were supplied by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, Medical Council of New Zealand Workforce Survey, and the Women in Interventional Cardiology Australia/New Zealand Group.

Results showed that of 121,211 practicing medical practitioners in Australia and New Zealand, 42 percent were female. Furthermore, only 15 percent of these women were cardiologists and only 4.8 percent were interventional cardiologists. Moreover, only 9 percent of interventional cardiology fellows were female and 3.4 percent of cath lab directors were female.

The authors note that the underrepresentation of women within interventional cardiology in Australia and New Zealand is comparable to that seen in the U.S., at 4.5 percent. They add that the low numbers of overall female interventional cardiologists and their relative isolation has the potential to impact future recruitment, collegial support, mentoring and research.

Furthermore, the authors describe a worldwide survey that found female cardiologists identify the three main barriers to interventional cardiology as lack of opportunity, radiation exposure and the prejudices of their male colleagues. They explain that the hypothesis that women self-exclude from interventional cardiology due to on-call hours or the physical demands of the role are not well supported by comparative data.

"We are likely to have lost potential leaders and innovators who could have improved outcomes for our patients and provided role models for trainee doctors to become interventional cardiologists as a result of gender inequality in interventional cardiology," the authors conclude. "Cardiology societies in Australia, New Zealand and across the world should lead change and promote the presence of women within their specialty."

Clinical Topics: Cardiovascular Care Team

Keywords: Female, Specialization, Fellowships and Scholarships, Research, Prejudice

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