Hem > Uncategorized > Are there too few women speaking at emergency medicine conferences? 

Are there too few women speaking at emergency medicine conferences? 

This recent article in the EMJ has been shared, but not discussed, on Twitter. Is there really no controversy here? Or are people afraid to speak their minds?

Few people argue that men should be overrepresented as speakers at medical conferences because there are more male professors. They offer it as an explanation, but I have never heard anyone say that it is important to maintain this imbalance for the sake of fairness, which I actually think would be a reasonable argument. Is that because we have a common understanding that we are on a trajectory towards equality and that this development is desired?

The conference program represents the society or organization behind it. At our national conference in Sweden I want to make sure that delegates are shown a diversity of role models in emergency care, from different parts of Sweden and abroad and with different backgrounds. Not because there are quotas to fill, but because I believe that it makes for a better conference.

In an ideal world gender is not an issue and chance alone decides the ratio of men to women at a conference. But we are not there yet. For some societies and in some cultures this will take years to accomplish. That’s just a natural reflection of the development of the medical profession. Without conscious decisions by the governing bodies this process will take longer. A strong signal on the importance of equal opportunities would be to ensure that half of keynote speakers at all conferences are female. Even where women constitute a minority of all doctors you should be able to come up with a handful of highly qualified speakers. If you can’t, that’s where the problem lies and we all need to be very worried.

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