The recent Women in Thoracic Oncology Networking Event provided its audience with the rare opportunity to speak openly and honestly about challenges in the workforce, from microaggressions to wage gaps between men and women. Co-chaired by Drs. Narjust Duma, Clarissa Mathias, and Heather Wakelee, the event included women from all areas of thoracic oncology and all career levels. All three chairs have broken ground in the areas of inclusivity and equity. As IASLC President-Elect, Dr. Wakelee will be just the second female president in the history of the society. Likewise, IASLC Board member Dr. Mathias is the second female president of the Brazilian Society of Clinical Oncology. Dr. Duma, a member of the IASLC Communications Committee and ILCN Editorial Group, was one of two female authors of “Evaluating unconscious bias: Speaker introductions of researchers at an international oncology conference,” which analyzed more than 2,500 video-archived speaker introductions from the 2017 and 2018 ASCO annual meetings (J Clin Oncol 2019;37(15_suppl):10503) to demonstrate through data the unconscious bias of session moderators.
The event itself was not recorded, but the keynote lecture from Dr. Julie K. Silver, of Harvard Medical School, is available on the WCLC 2020 platform to all registrants (click the banner next to the main screen in the Scientific Program Hall). Dr. Silver reviews four key strategies for improving diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she offers detailed analyses of workforce data spanning the past 35 years. Dr. Silver notes that there are several medical specialties in which women comprise less than 1% of leadership and award recipients.
Although it is a common assumption that once there are enough women in a given specialty, the scales will balance—especially now in the #MeToo era. Dr. Silver notes, however, that critical mass is not relevant in the way that individual critical actors are. Her lecture provides tips for women at all career levels as to how to become critical actors on a daily basis, for themselves and their female colleagues.
After watching the keynote by Dr. Silver, listen to the Lung Cancer Considered episode with the event chairs, in which they discuss their career paths and their hopes for future events focusing on women in thoracic oncology.