MAR 04, 2020
The authors analyzed the proportion of females presenting at 9 major ophthalmology conferences over a 3-year period.
This was a retrospective observational study that examined brochures from 9 ophthalmology national conferences between 2015 and 2017. Gender demographics of speakers, moderators, course instructors, presenters and first-author abstract authors were assessed.
Overall, 30.5% of 14,214 speakers were women, which is higher than would be expected based on the American Board of Ophthalmology database numbers. The rate of women presenting nonpapers (nonsubmitted talks or presentations) was lower than expected (28.5%) based on the rate of women presenting papers (33.1%). The meetings with the highest proportion of women speakers were pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus and uveitis. Meetings with the lowest proportion of women speakers were retina and refractive surgery.
This study was limited to only 9 conferences (1 per subspecialty) which offers a limited view into gender differences between subspecialties. Given the increasing proportion of female ophthalmology residents in the ABO database, the numbers are likely not reflective of the actual pool of female ophthalmologists presenting at national meetings.
This study highlights that a gender gap still exists when it comes to comparing submitted versus invited conference participation. More studies are needed to evaluate whether this is a real trend, especially within the retina subspecialty, and what strategies could be employed to combat this discrepancy.