Session encourages action on improving gender equity


How to develop and employ strategies to advance gender equality in hospital medicine was the focus of Tuesday’s Quick Talk “Lead In: Advancing Gender Equity in Hospital Medicine.”

Dr. Vineet Arora

Dr. Vineet Arora

Attendees heard the importance of taking action now to improve gender equality in hospital medicine to better the climate for current and future physicians. The session’s aim was to be informative and serve as a call-to-action, said presenter Vineet Arora, MD, MAPP, MPM, a professor of medicine and assistant dean for scholarship and discovery at the University of Chicago.

“Without deliberate focus and attention, it will take 200 years to close the gender equity gap worldwide,” Dr. Arora said in an interview. “This is a call to action for us to not only help current women but also future generations to come. To make a dent, gender inequity needs to be treated like a never event, much like how we have approached patient safety for the past 20 years, for us to change the culture and make actual progress.”

During the presentation, Dr. Arora discussed various strategies that hospital medicine program leaders can utilize to recognize and empower women in the workplace and that center on making women seen, heard, and known among work teams and leadership. For example, prominent women leaders can be displayed through photos in the building to draw recognition. Supporting and expanding on ideas made by women with appropriate attribution also is key, Dr. Arora noted. She discussed a strategy used by women staffers in the Obama administration during meetings. When one woman staffer made a key point, another woman staffer would repeat the point and give credit to its author, which compelled men in the room to acknowledge the idea while preventing them from claiming the idea as their own later.

Dr. Arora stressed the importance of sponsoring women in their career endeavors, supporting women who are successful, and recognizing gender bias in yourself. She noted a recent study that found when female residents struggled, they received discordant feedback on autonomy and assertiveness.

The take-home message for attendees is that today is the right time to make changes and improve gender equality, said Dr. Arora, who is a founding member of TIME’S UP Healthcare, an organization that addresses gender inequalities and sexual harassment.

“I hope attendees will take immediate action to address gender equity, including create sponsorship programs, make sure women are not only seen but also heard, and address any implicit bias that may be hampering advancement of women,” she said.

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