Orlando, Florida - Gender disparities exist in clinical practice and academic medicine when it comes to career opportunities and treatment. According to a November 2017 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nearly 47 percent of the U.S. workforce are women.  In 2011, the BLS also reported that only 34 percent of physicians and surgeons were women. 

A number of scientific papers have examined and found bias for women when seeking care. A distinctive panel of female leaders in the field of diabetes care and research are convening for several sessions during the American Diabetes Association's® (ADA’s) 78th Scientific Sessions® at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center to discuss and examine gender issues, gaps, and biases as they relate to the field of diabetes care, research and heath care careers. 

The “Gender Gaps in Research and Care” News Briefing on Friday, June 22 featured the following presentations:

Gender Gaps in Science—The Clinician Scientist Perspective

Elizabeth R. Seaquist, MD, Pennock Family Chair in Diabetes Research, Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, and Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes at the University of Minnesota, presented information about the gender gaps that exist in the clinical sciences, with a focus on looking at advancement and rewards for women. She will also address how these gaps can be overcome with intervention programs. Additionally, Dr. Seaquist discussed the findings and recommendations of the report from the National Academies of Sciences and Medicine on sexual harassment in academia and shared “blind spots” in which she has encountered gender discrimination in her own career as a clinical investigator.

“The gender gap in medicine is real, and with an ongoing commitment throughout the health care infrastructure, we can affect change,” said Dr. Seaquist. “Increased diversity and women in leadership roles in the academic medical setting provides the opportunity for critical perspectives and knowledge that can improve care and outcomes.”

Overcoming Gender Gaps in Science—A Health Education and Behavioral Discipline Perspective

Issues of gender that impact women-predominant disciplines in diabetes, including nursing, health education, and psychology, were addressed by the ADA’s 2018 President of Health Care & Education Felicia Hill-Briggs, PhD, ABPP, professor of medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and acute and chronic care at the Johns Hopkins University.

“These disciplines often face undervaluing of their science—sometimes denoted as ‘soft science’— inequities in their professional standing, and fewer opportunities for advancement within academic medicine, as a consequence of larger societal systems of gender and gender bias,” said Dr. Hill-Briggs. “Gender bias systems have contributed to lower priority and professional status for these expert disciplines and professionals.”

The topic of “intersectionality” were also discussed by Dr. Hill-Briggs, a behavioral scientist and clinical psychologist, as she shares her personal experiences, barriers, and, ultimately, strategies for success at the intersection of female gender, African-American race, and PhD discipline in academic medicine in diabetes. 

WIN ADA Initiative

The Women’s Interprofessional Network of the American Diabetes Association is a members-only network of female clinicians, scientists, health educators, scientists, and other health professionals in the diabetes field. The group’s goals are to strengthen the voice and presence of women in diabetes research and clinical practice; to recognize the significant contributions of women to the diabetes field; and to provide career development and networking opportunities to women of all career stages to help them achieve their full potential. Additionally, WIN ADA aims to increase research efforts on women’s health and gender as a biological variable in diabetes. WIN ADA co-chair Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, professor of medicine, biochemistry and bioengineering and associate director of the Center for Women’s Health Research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine Anschutz Medical Campus, and ADA’s 2018 President of Medicine & Science  highlighted the WIN ADA program. A WIN ADA networking reception will be held during Scientific Sessions on Friday, June 22 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. in the Level 3 Foyer, outside the Chapin Theater, at the Orange County Convention Center. The 2018 WIN ADA Award-winners will be announced at the reception.

“Women are an integral part of our nation’s workforce, and I am proud there has been an increase in the number of women entering careers that focus on science and medicine,” said Dr. Reusch. “Unfortunately, there are still barriers to be addressed, yet discussions such as this create pathways and facilitate enhanced opportunities for clinicians and researchers. Ultimately, this will result in optimal care for people with diabetes.”

The American Diabetes Association’s 78th Scientific Sessions, to be held June 22-26, 2018, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, is the world’s largest scientific meeting focused on diabetes research, prevention and care. During the five-day meeting, more than 16,000 health care professionals from around the world will have exclusive access to more than 3,000 original diabetes research presentations, participate in provocative and engaging exchanges with leading diabetes experts, and can earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) or Continuing Education (CE) credits for educational sessions. The program is grouped into eight theme areas: Acute and Chronic Complications; Behavioral Medicine, Clinical Nutrition, Education and Exercise; Clinical Diabetes/Therapeutics; Epidemiology/Genetics; Immunology/Transplantation; Insulin Action/Molecular Metabolism; Integrated Physiology/Obesity; and Islet Biology/Insulin Secretion. Felicia Hill-Briggs, PhD, ABPP, President of Health Care and Education, will deliver her address, “The American Diabetes Association in the Era of Health Care Transformation,” on Saturday, June 23, and Jane E.B. Reusch, MD, President of Medicine and Science, will present her address, “24/7/365 – Lifetime with Diabetes,” on Sunday, June 24. In total, the 2018 Scientific Sessions includes 375 oral presentations; 2,117 poster presentations, including 47 moderated poster discussions; and 297 published-only abstracts. Join the Scientific Sessions conversation on social media using #2018ADA.