Female leadership in oncology-has progress stalled? Data from the ESMO W4O authorship and monitoring studies.
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<h4>Background</h4>Exploratory research showed that female oncologists are frequently under-represented in leadership roles. European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Women for Oncology (W4O) therefore implemented gender equality programs in career development and established international studies on female representation at all stages of the oncology career pathway.<h4>Methods</h4>For 2017-2019, data were collected on (i) first and last authorship of publications in five major oncology journals and (ii) representation of women in leadership positions in oncology-as invited speakers at National/International congresses, board members or presidents of National/International societies and ESMO members. The 2015/2016 data from the first published W4O Study were incorporated for comparisons.<h4>Results</h4>Across 2017-2019, female oncologists were significantly more likely to be first than last authors (P < 0.001). The proportion of female first authors was similar across years: 38.0% in 2017, 37.1% in 2018, 41.0% in 2019 (P = 0.063). The proportion of female last authors decreased from 30.4% in 2017 to 24.2% in 2018 (P = 0.0018) and increased to 28.5% in 2019 (P = 0.018). Across 2015-2019, invited speakers at International/National oncology congresses were significantly less likely to be female than male (P < 0.001; 29.7% in 2015 to 36.8% in 2019). Across 2016-2019, board members of International/National oncology societies were significantly less likely to be female than male (P < 0.001; 26.8% in 2016 to 35.8% in 2019). There were statistically significant increasing trends in female speakers and board members across the study periods (P < 0.001 for both). Societies with a female president had a higher proportion of female board members across these periods (P = 0.026).<h4>Conclusions</h4>Reported progress towards gender equality in career development in oncology is real but slow. Women in leadership positions are essential for encouraging young women to aspire to and work towards similar or greater success. Therefore, continued monitoring is needed to inform ESMO W4O initiatives to promote gender balance at all stages of the career pathway.
ESMO open, 2021, 6 (6), pp. 100281 - ?