Reduced Professional Isolation
Though largely attributed to work-life-family conflict, it is likely that women feel isolated for many reasons and suffer from a lack of support at their home institutions. Becoming part of a women-focused group is a way for women to decrease professional isolation and increase their sense of belonging within a community of individuals who have dealt and continue to deal with similar issues.
Explore This IssueACEP Now: Vol 38 – No 12 – December 2019
Here, the digital age offers potential avenues for improvement by making it possible for women to easily communicate on a larger scale than what was previously possible. Women from a variety of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, upbringings, experiences, and perspectives are now able to communicate instantaneously and form communities that were once inconceivable. Grassroots efforts have formed powerful networks of women, such as FemInEM, that have used their online footprint to spread important messages to a global arena. Social media campaigns, such as #TimesUpHealthcare, #WomenInMedicine, and #GirlMedTwitter, have been able to spread their messages and bring together a global community of women who face similar issues, though they may be separated by time and distance.
Women today are entering the sciences, particularly the medical field, in record numbers. However, it is clear that we are losing great numbers of these women (and women-hours of productivity) as they advance through their careers. We must find ways to curb this problem so we retain the diversity and value that female physicians provide to medicine. Research is now shedding light on the tangible benefits of joining women-focused organizations. The potential improvements span across multiple domains, including creating opportunities for mentorship, promotion, scholarly productivity, and advocacy for gender-specific issues. But this is only the beginning. With the advent of so many different avenues to create a network of women with similarly focused goals, we are just now sensing how much can be accomplished.
“The Equity Equation” is curated by Dara Kass, MD, and Uché Blackstock, MD.
Dr. Das is director of undergraduate point-of-care ultrasound medical education and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.
- More women than men enrolled in US medical schools in 2017. Association of American Medical Colleges website. Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.
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- Choo EK, Kass D, Westergaard M, et al. The development of best practice recommendations to support the hiring, recruitment, and advancement of women physicians in emergency medicine. Acad Emerg Med. 2016;23(11):1203-1209.
- Lin MP, Lall MD, Samuels-Kalow M, et al. Impact of women-focused professional organization and academic retention and advancement: perceptions from a qualitative study. Acad Emerg Med. 2019;26(3):303-316.
- Varkey P, Jatoi A, Williams A, et al. The positive impact of a facilitated peer mentoring program on academic skills of women faculty. BMC Med Educ. 2012;12:14.
- Holliday E, Griffith KA, De Castro R, et al. Gender differences in resources and negotiation among highly motivated physician-scientists. J Gen Intern Med. 2015;30(4):401-407.
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Sexual harassment of women: climate, culture and consequences in academic sciences, engineering, and medicine. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2018.
- Paturel A. Why women leave medicine. Association of American Medical Colleges website. Accessed Nov. 18, 2019.