“Women who are in ophthalmology now have such an opportunity” but they “need to be very brave and assume the power positions”. So said Dr Kerry Meades when interviewed for our lead story in this issue on equal opportunity.
It’s clear from the anecdotes that my colleague Michelle Hauschild heard when researching this article that women have come a long way in ophthalmology.
However, for some, there’s still a perceived need to visually communicate their role as a doctor, by wearing a white coat, for example. I’ve heard others say they wear trouser suits to clinical conferences so they can blend in with their male colleagues. At those same conferences, research tells us,1 women are more likely to be introduced by their first name, rather than their professional title, reinforcing gender bias that men are of higher status than women.
We are told that just over 50% of graduating medical students are now women, yet only about 30–35% of the applicants to The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists’ (RANZCO) ophthalmology training program are female.
However, proving the power of positive discrimination, a target set in the RANZCO Women in Ophthalmology Committee’s Strategic Plan – to have at least 35% female representation on College committees – has almost been met. We are on the way to having plenty of female mentors who will encourage the next generation of women in ophthalmology.
In optometry, the numbers are more encouraging for women and something we’ll look into in a future issue.
To coincide with Diabetes Awareness Month, our current issue has some fascinating articles on diabetic retinopathy and an update on KeepSight – the important initiative that aims to remind patients with diabetes to have regular eye checks.
Thank you to all the contributors to mivision. As always, we appreciate the extraordinary time that goes into preparing articles that develop knowledge, foster collaborative care, and contribute to improved patient outcomes.
1. Files, J.A., Mayer, A.P., Ko, M.G. et al., Speaker introductions at internal medicine grand rounds: Forms of address reveal gender bias, Journal of Women’s Health, 2017 26:5, 413–419.