Group working steadily to increase the visibility—and number—of women in radiology

Female radiologists have made strides increasing their presence and visibility over the 35 years since the 1981 founding of the American Association for Women Radiologists (AAWR). However, their numbers continue to lag far behind those of their male counterparts, especially in leadership positions.

Accordingly, future AAWR efforts will focus on recruiting more women into radiology and advocating for women rads to be nominated to positions of national leadership within the profession.

Present and former AAWR leadership members explain the hows and whys, and lay out their vision for achieving greater progress, in an article published online Dec. 28 in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Lead author Lucy Spalluto, MD, of Vanderbilt and colleagues further state the organization’s intentions to work with the American Board of Radiology in ensuring maternity-leave regulations are observed within radiology and confirming that lactation and childcare facilities are consistently provided at all national radiology society meetings.

In introducing their status report and updated plan of action, the authors point to the latest ACR workforce survey. This showed that fewer than one-quarter of practicing radiologists in the U.S.—indeed, only 21 percent—are women.

More concerning than the ratio itself is that it hasn’t changed much over the past few decades.  

In the face of this, though, the organization sees momentum to build on: AAWR began as an informal series of meetings consisting of two women—and has by now developed into a nationally recognized society with more than 800 members.

“The AAWR’s persistent efforts to improve the visibility of women in radiology, offer networking opportunities, and serve as an official resource for nomination ensure constant advocacy for women in radiology that supplements the efforts of individual women,” write Spalluto et al.

Meanwhile, the standing of women in leadership in ACR has certainly improved, they note. Some 10 women—three of whom are past AAWR presidents—are now serving on ACR’s board of chancellors (out of 33 total current members). Plus, of 22 members on the ACR Council steering committee, six are women.

In addition, Geraldine McGinty, MD, MBA, of Weill Cornell currently serves as the first woman vice chair of the ACR’s board of chancellors and will likely go on to serve as its first woman chair.

“The AAWR applauds the ACR for this major advance in diversity of ACR leadership,” the authors write. “Increasing diversity in radiology leadership enhances the future of radiology and, as said by [ACR’s] Commission for Women and General Diversity, ‘by leveraging diverse backgrounds, experiences, and skills of those in (radiology and radiation oncology), we will create new, effective ways to not only educate our trainees, medical colleagues, and patients but also improve delivery of health care and our service to society.’”