Representation of Women among Invited Speakers at Medical Specialty Conferences

Allison R. Larson, Katherine M. Sharkey, Julie A. Poorman, Carolyn K. Kan, Susan M. Moeschler, Rekha Chandrabose, Carol M. Marquez, Daleela G. Dodge, Julie K. Silver, Rosalynn M. Nazarian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Background: Gender-related differences have been found among invited speakers in select professional and medical societies. We examined whether similar disparities existed among keynote speakers, plenary speakers, and invited lecturers in a broad range of medical specialty conferences from 2013 to 2017. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was performed on 27 U.S. medical specialty conferences for which data were available on plenary speakers, keynote speakers, and/or invited lecturers. For each speaker, gender and degree(s) were determined. Fisher's exact test was performed to compare proportions of women among speakers to Association of American Medical Colleges' (AAMC) physician workforce data on gender distribution. Results: In aggregate, we identified 246 women among 984 speakers, significantly lower than expected when compared with 2015 AAMC data (25.0% vs. 34.0%; p < 0.00001). Compared with AAMC data reported in 2013, 2015, and 2017, women were significantly underrepresented in 2013 (p = 0.0064) and 2015 (p = 0.00004). In 2017, the proportion of women among invited speakers trended lower than AAMC active women physicians but did not reach significance (p = 0.309). Analysis of individual conference data stratified by year indicated that, while the representation of women among all speakers improved between 2015 and 2017, the representation of women among keynote speakers, plenary speakers, and invited lectureships was variable (including zero levels some years during the study period) and remained lower than expected as compared with workforce data for specific medical specialties. Conclusions: Evaluating for and improving disparities is recommended to ensure gender equity among invited speakers across all medical specialty conferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)550-560
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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