Study Finds Unique Barriers For Women in Interventional Cardiology

Directly addressing the unique barriers cited by women in interventional cardiology may provide the most impact in reducing gender imbalances in the field, according to a study published Jan. 16 in JACC: Cardiovascular Interventions.

Based off an online survey of cardiovascular Fellows in Training (FITs), Celina M. Yong, MD, et. al, assessed FIT perspectives regarding subspecialty choices. The survey, conducted under the direction of ACC's Women in Cardiology Leadership Council, sought to determine the factors that influence FITs to pursue a career in interventional cardiology and how these differ by sex.

Results showed that out of 574 respondents, 33 percent anticipated specializing in interventional cardiology. In addition, men were more likely to choose interventional cardiology than women (39 percent men vs. 17 percent women), and were more likely to be married and have children. Among married FITs, male interventional cardiology FITs more likely have spouses who do not work.

The authors also found that while men were more likely to be influenced by positive attributes to pursue interventional cardiology, women were significantly more likely to be influenced by negative attributes against pursuing the field. These negative attributes include greater interest in another field, little job flexibility, physically demanding nature of job, radiation during childbearing, "old boys' club" culture, lack of female role models, and gender discrimination.

"Even in the modern era of improved representation of women across most other medical specialties, this study provides evidence that interventional cardiology lags behind," the authors conclude. "If we hope to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our patients and optimizes delivery of care, targeted resolution will maximize the impact of our efforts."

In an accompanying editorial comment, Annapoorna S. Kini, MD, FACC, notes that "There is a great career path waiting for women in interventional cardiology and the outcome is gratifying and fulfilling." She adds, "In the future, I can see how female physicians will evolve in terms of their skills, talents, good decision-making and leadership in interventional cardiology."

ACC Interventional Section Chair Roxana Mehran, MD, FACC, notes that this article brings to light points that need to be fully addressed by professional organizations. "The archaic sense that female interventional cardiologists cannot be successful wives or mothers, and that inversely, men who chose interventional cardiology cannot have wives who work, is beyond the realm of where we should be in 2019," she writes. "Interventional cardiology is a demanding yet rewarding profession, and we must do a better job of promoting it to avoid losing talent and endorsing burnout."

Keywords: Leadership, Physicians, Women, Fellowships and Scholarships, Decision Making

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