Empowering female pediatric urologists: The first international "Women in Pediatric Urology Conference"
Ashley W. Johnston, MD, Hayley Powell, BA, Rosalia Misseri, MD.
Riley Hospital for Children, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.
Introduction:The percentage of females practicing as pediatric urologists has increased over time. There is a growing need to support female pediatric urologists, especially to increase the presence of women in leadership and research roles. Our aim was to host the first international conference dedicated exclusively to the advancement of women in pediatric urology.
Methods:A virtual platform was selected given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Twelve female physicians from 4 different countries were invited to speak. The 4-hour long conference included 3 hours of panel presentations and an 1-hour breakout session. Attendees chose from 3 options for breakout sessions based on career stage: Fellowship, New Faculty, Mid-Career. After conference completion, all attendees received an email invite to complete an anonymous, online feedback survey.
Results:The virtual conference was held on January 29, 2022. A total of 123 individuals attended. Attendees were from 11 different countries (North America 82%, Europe 18%) and 36 different states. Attendees represented all career stages: faculty 54%, fellow 11%, resident 13%, student 5%, and other 17%.The 4 panel sessions centered on: career promotion, burnout, research, and leadership. Despite variations in career stage, practice scope, and practice location, the speakers' emphasized similar themes (Table). Women universally expressed concerns regarding gender stereotypes, lack of representation, and imposter syndrome. These were counterbalanced with encouraging messages highlighting the importance of mentorship, self-promotion, and adaptability. Overall, attendees rated the conference very highly with a mean rating of 4.9 (1-5 Likert scale, 5 being the highest rating, n=41). Attendees said they very likely to attend future conferences and recommend the conference to colleagues (mean rating 4.9 and 4.8, respectively, 1-5 Likert scale, 5 being very likely). Although attendees expressed interest in attending an in-person conference (mean rating 4.0), many commented positively on the convenience of the virtual option. The breakout sessions were the favorite aspect of many attendees (20%, 8/41). Forty-one percent (17/41) recommended more opportunities for interactive dialogue and questions.
Conclusions:The first medical conference aimed to support and celebrate the advancement of female pediatric urologists successfully united women from across the world. It was well-attended and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. We demonstrated the clear need for a safe-space for women to candidly discuss barriers and recommendations for career success. Attendance, especially by international urologists, benefitted from the virtual platform, but may have limited unstructured discussions. Plans are underway to include female-centric programming at future urologic conferences.
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