Assessing Gender Trends in Speakers at Annual AAD Meetings

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Representation of female speakers at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meetings has been on the rise since 2010.

Representation of female speakers at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) Annual Meetings has been on the rise since 2010, with the percentage of female presenters approaching the percentage of women in dermatology residencies since 2018, according to the results of a recent retrospective cohort study published in JAMA Dermatology.

Arash Mostaghimi, MD, MPA, MPH, of the Department of Dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues, sought to assess the trends in the number of female speakers and the associated presentation times at AAD Annual Meetings. They reviewed the AAD Annual Meeting schedules for all even-numbered years between 2010 and 2018 to identify presenters and presentation times at symposia, plenary sessions, forum talks, and focus sessions. Regarding multiple-speaker sessions, all time was divided equally for each presenter.

Exclusion criteria for speakers included a lack of US medical licensure (n=314), a clear match from a web-based search (n=23), or demographic information on a state board website (n=10). Gender, medical school graduation year, terminal degrees, and board certification in 2017 (for 2010 to 2016 conference years) or 2018 (for 2018 conference year) were all chronicled. The proportions of female speakers and female speaking time were computed for each conference year.

Results of the study demonstrated that across 4 conferences, a total of 1410 unique speakers presented a total of 4671 times, translating to a median of 2 times (interquartile range [IQR], 1-4 times). Overall, 85.1% of the speakers had doctor of medicine degrees, followed by both doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy degrees or other degrees in 11% and 3.9%, respectively. Moreover, 81.1% of the speakers presented more than 10 years after their graduation from medical school; 17.4% of the speakers presented within 10 years of their medical school graduation. Overall, 94.1% of the speakers held board certification in dermatology.

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The median speaker time was 24 minutes (IQR, 20-30 minutes), and there were a median number of 5 speakers (IQR, 4-7 speakers) per session. Univariable analysis showed the mean presentation time to be 34.8 minutes for men and 36.0 minutes for women (mean difference, -1.24 minutes; P =.31). After adjusting for board certifications, degree, and time since graduation, the difference in presentation time among men vs women was similar (mean difference, -1.49 minutes; P =.24). From 2010 to 2018, the proportion of female speakers and their allotted presentation time have increased (43.6% and 43.6%, respectively, in 2010 and 53.8% and 57%, respectively, in 2018).

Recognizing that presentations at national meetings and publications are the leading indicators for academic promotion, the investigators are hopeful that the findings from this study will translate to greater representation of women at the highest levels of academic dermatology.

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Mujahid N, Song H, Li DG, Joyce C, Mostaghimi A. Trends in gender of speakers at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting, 2010-2018 [published online February 6, 2019]. JAMA Dermatol. doi: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.5466