JAN 06, 2023
Comprehensive Ophthalmology, Retina/Vitreous
Those who identify as women have achieved greater representation in the American Society of Retina Specialists (ASRS) than ever before, yet a significant gender gap remains, especially in leadership roles.
This is a retrospective longitudinal review paper looking at trends in gender disparities within the ASRS—including overall membership, leadership positions, and winners of the 4 main ASRS awards—from 1983 through 2020.
Over the last two decades, the proportion of women in membership increased from 11% (2007) to 19.7% (2020), and women award winners increased from 0 in the first decade to women earning 21% of all ASRS awards 2010–2019. Despite these trends, there is still a disparity. One example is the comparison of women Crystal Apple award winners and retina fellowship directors. During 2009–2019, only 9% of winners were women, despite women making up nearly 19% of fellowship directors. This suggests that women's efforts in mentorship and education are not being appropriately recognized. In addition, only 2 out of 32 ASRS leadership positions during this time were filled by women. At the time of this article's submission, Dr. Julia Haller was the only woman ASRS president of 23 presidents since 1983.
Available data for this study is limited. Membership records include some information on gender identity, but even now members are not required to choose gender on their profiles, so the data is incomplete. In addition, early gender identity data was recorded as binary, which misrepresents the full spectrum of possible gender identities. Differentiation between surgical and medical retina practice is also not recorded, which could provide data about gender preferences in each specialty.
This paper demonstrates the gender disparities that exist and the trends toward equity in the largest retina organization in the world. The increased percentage of women members, board members, award winners, and society leaders indicate positive improvements in comparison to years past, but there is still a clear gender representation gap in the field.