By Krisha Howell, MD; Shauna Campbell, DO; Jessica Schuster, MD; and ASTRO President Laura Dawson, MD, FASTRO
ASTRO is pleased to announce the launch in the fall of a new community, ASTRO’s Gender Equity, on the ROhub.
As part of the message of the 62nd Annual Meeting, Global Oncology: Radiation Therapy in a Changing World, we realize many of the physical and ideological barriers once separating people in health care and in the workplace — geography, language, culture, time zones — have been diminished in part due to technology.1 ASTRO recognizes, however, that despite these technological advances, there are striking disparities which manifest throughout time and virtual space. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted structural inequities in health care, with disparities in people marginalized by race, age, socioeconomic status and gender becoming more apparent and inhibiting the collective goals of our field. Among them, diverse challenges exist unique to women in health care and individuals stymied by gender stereotyping. During the pandemic, women and health care workers with caregiving responsibilities are having increasing domestic demands. Already, a widening gender gap in academic productivity during the pandemic is being seen.2
In surveying the future landscape of radiation oncology, ASTRO Chair Thomas Eichler, MD, FASTRO, acknowledged in 2019 that the greatest asset to our field is our members.1 This remains true in 2020. It is through our members that the ASTRO Gender Equity Community seeks to connect, provide resources and offer a platform for women and others interested in gender equity to exchange ideas within the field of radiation oncology.
The Gender Equity Community was conceived with the recognition that a smaller percentage of female medical students are choosing radiation oncology as their preferred career. Additionally, a paucity of radiation oncology leadership positions are currently occupied by women. The objective of the Gender Equity Community on the ROhub is to designate this space as a resource for ASTRO members to safely pose questions, raise concerns and foster support to achieve the above goals. We hope it will also provide an opportunity for networking and mentorship.
Within the first week of its rollout, the forum engaged in discussion about the persistently low matriculation of female medical students selecting radiation oncology and the need to have women in leadership roles to help address this disparity. Female leaders are needed to not only mentor medical students but also to guide other females into leadership roles. Other apt discussion topics opened on the forum at this time include sharing individual stories and improving ASTRO member gender demographic data.
We are thrilled to have this virtual space to provide constructive discussion of these and related issues for a positive contribution to our physicians’ careers and wellness.
We are planning many discussions and will be writing monthly blog posts and posing questions both here on the blog and in the ROhub community.
Join us on the ROhub and answer: How can the ROhub Gender Equity community best work for you as a forum to facilitate discussion, disseminate resources and enable networking?
How to Participate:
The Gender Equity Community welcomes all ASTRO members. To enroll, a member can go to the ROhub on the ASTRO website at rohub.astro.org:
- Sign in at the top right corner button.
- From there, a menu will appear under the header space.
- Second from the left is “Communities.”
- Select “All Communities” to see all communities open to you or in which you are currently enrolled. Communities are organized alphabetically.
- Scroll to “Gender Equity Network/Community.”
- At the far right of the row is a blue button that can be selected to “Join.”
Operational details are as follows:
Enrolled members may post and read the other posts within the community. Prior to posting, the submitted comment will be reviewed by a moderator to ensure our Society’s professionalism is maintained and to confirm that no parties would individually be harmed by anything posted within the community. Submitted comments will be posted within 24 to 48 hours of submission.
1. Eichler TJ. Join us in 2020 for ASTRO’s 62nd Annual Meeting in Miami Beach. ASTRO Daily News. 2019;2;Sept 15-16:16.
2. Andersen JP, Nielsen MW, Simone NL, et al. Covid-19 medical papers have fewer women first authors than expected. ELife. 2020;9:e58807.
This article originally appeared in ASTRO Daily News, a publication of the ASTRO Annual Meeting.