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Case and Research Letters
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Disponible online el 3 de Abril de 2024
[Translated article] Gender at Dermatology Conferences: A Descriptive Analysis
Análisis de género de las reuniones científicas en dermatología
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A. López Vallea,
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lopezvallealba@gmail.com

Corresponding author.
, C.A. Rubio-Munizb
a Servicio de Dermatología, Hospital Universitario de Ciudad Real, Ciudad Real, Spain
b Servicio de Dermatología, Hospital Universitario 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain
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A. López Valle, C.A. Rubio-Muniz
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Table 1. Results of the genre analysis in dermatology congresses from 2021 through 2022.
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To the Director,

The absence of gender discrimination is a right enshrined in the Spanish Constitution.1 To assess the presence of gender bias in scientific dermatology meetings, we conducted this descriptive cross-sectional study on dermatology congresses held in Spain from 2021 through 2022. We included meetings with accessible online scientific programs, and went on to study the gender of coordinators, speakers, and moderators of both main (seminars, symposia, interactive sessions, etc.) and oral presentations. Industry-sponsored or limited-capacity presentations (courses and workshops) were excluded. The data is shown in table 1. In the congresses of the Spanish Working Group on Photobiology (GEF) and the Spanish Group Working on Pediatric Dermatology (GEDP), all presentations were considered oral presentations. In the congress held by the Working Group on E-Dermatology and Imaging (GEDEI), information on the authors of oral presentations was not available. The femininity index—a gender indicator obtained by dividing the number of women by the number of men—was also estimated.

Table 1.

Results of the genre analysis in dermatology congresses from 2021 through 2022.

Congress  Female moderators  Male moderators  FI  Female speakers  Male speakers  FI  Coordinators 
GEDOCMale 
Total  5 (18.52%)  22 (81.48%)  0.23  26 (40.63%)  38 (59.38%)  0.68   
MP  4 (19.05%)  17 (80.95%)  0.24  10 (29.41%)  24 (70.59%)  0.42   
OP  1 (16.67%)  5 (83.33%)  0.2  16 (53.33%)  14 (46.67%)  1.14   
GEDEIMale 
Total  2 (25%)  6 (75%)  0.33  5 (41.67%)  7 (58.33%)  0.71   
MP  2 (25%)  6 (75%)  0.33  5 (41.67%)  7 (58.33%)  0.71   
OP   
GPSMale 
Total  4 (25%)  12 (75%)  0.33  13 (31.71%)  28 (68.29%)  0.46   
MP  3 (21.43%)  11 (78.57%)  0.27  6 (28.57%)  15 (71.43%)  0.4   
OP  1 (50%)  1 (50%)  7 (35%)  13 (65%)  0.54   
GEDETMale 
Total  6 (27.27%)  16 (72.73%)  0.38  14 (31.82%)  30 (68.18%)  0.47   
MP  5 (26.32%)  14 (73.68%)  0.36  9 (24.32%)  28 (75.68%)  0.32   
OP  1 (33.33%)  2 (66.67%)  0.5  5 (71.43%)  2 (28.57%)  2.5   
GEIDACMale 
Total  3 (30%)  7 (70%)  0.43  18 (47.37%)  20 (52.63%)  0.9   
MP  2 (100%)  2 (100%)   
OP  3 (37.50%)  5 (62.50%)  0.6  18 (50%)  18 (50%)   
TRICOMale 
Total  7 (35%)  13 (65%)  0.54  10 (32.26%)  21 (67.74%)  0.48   
MP  3 (21.43%)  11 (78.57%)  0.27  6 (33.33%)  12 (66.67%)  0.5   
OP  4 (66.67%)  2 (33.33%)  4 (30.77%)  9 (69.23%)  0.44   
GEDEASMale 
Total  1 (50%)  1 (50%)  4 (33.33%)  8 (66.67%)  0.5   
MP  1 (100%)   
OP  1 (50%)  1 (50%)  4 (36.36%)  7 (63.64%)  0.57   
GEFMale 
Total  2 (50%)  2 (50%)  7 (46.67%)  8 (53.33%)  0.88   
MP   
OP  2 (50%)  2 (50%)  7 (46.67%)  8 (53.33%)  0.88   
NacionalMale 
Total  62 (50%)  62 (50%)  172 (49.14%)  178 (50.86%)  0.97   
MP  52 (50.98%)  50 (49.02%)  1.04  122 (47.66%)  134 (52.34%)  0.91   
OP  10 (45.45%)  12 (54.55%)  0.83  50 (53.19%)  44 (46.81%)  1.14   
GEDPMale 
Total  6 (66.67%)  3 (33.33%)  32 (54.24%)  27 (45.76%)  1.19   
MP   
OP  6 (66.67%)  3 (33.33%)  32 (54.24%)  27 (45.76%)  1.19   
TOTAL              2 women2 men 
  98 (40.50%)  144 (59.50%)  0.68  301 (45.20%)  365 (54.80%)  0.82   
MP  69 (38.33%)  111 (61.67%)  0.62  158 (41.47%)  223 (58.53%)  0.71   
OP  29 (46.77%)  33 (53.23%)  0.88  143 (50.18%)  142 (49.82%)  1.01   

GEDOC (XXXIII Meeting of the Spanish Working Group on Dermato-Oncology and Surgery, 2021); GEDEI (XI Meeting of the Working Group on E-Dermatology and Imaging, 2022); GPS (VII Congress of the Psoriasis Working Group, 2022); GEDET (XXXII Meeting of the Spanish Working Group on Aesthetic and Therapeutic Dermatology, 2021); GEIDAC (LXVI Meeting of the Spanish Working Group for Research on Contact Dermatitis and Skin Allergy, 2021); TRICO (XXII Meeting of the Spanish Working Group of Trichology, 2021); GEDEAS (V Meeting of the Spanish Working Group of Dermatology in Systemic Autoimmune Diseases, 2021); GEF (XXXVI Meeting of the Spanish Working Group of Photobiology, 2022; National (XXXXVIII National Congress of Dermatology and Venereology, 2021; GEDP (XXXIII Meeting of the Spanish Working Group of Pediatric Dermatology, 2022). FI, femininity index; MP, main presentations; OP, oral presentations; total, sum of MP+OP.

We collected data from 10 scientific meetings for a total of 666 speakers (45.20% women). Men were speakers 9.6% more often compared to women. Additionally, men were 17% more likely to be speakers in main presentations than women were, while an equitable distribution of speakers by gender in oral presentations was reported. Regarding moderation, out of a total of 242 moderators (40.50% women), men moderated 20% more sessions than women did, with no gender balance in any type of the presentations. Most meetings (8 out of 10) were coordinated by men.

To assess the relevance of these findings, it is necessary to know gender distribution among dermatology specialists. In 2018, the Medical College Organization (OMC) published a report2 including a trend towards the feminization of the medical profession. According to this report, back in 2017, the femininity index of active registered dermatologists was 1.1, indicating a slight feminization of our specialty.

Figures 1 and 2 present the femininity indices in moderation and presentations, respectively. In moderation, only the oral presentations of trichology and GEDP congresses exceed the femininity index published by the World Health Organization (WHO). In presentations, the only congress with a total femininity index >1.1 was the GEDP congress where all were oral presentations. In other words, the difference created by the lower number of female speakers in main presentations prevents any congress with main presentations from reaching the femininity index of the specialty.

Figure 1.

Graph with femininity indices regarding moderation at various congresses and presentations.

(0,31MB).
Figure 2.

Graph with femininity indices regarding lectures at various congresses and presentations.

(0,28MB).

A study published in 20203 analyzed gender differences in a sample of 98 congresses from different countries. In the European dermatology congresses analyzed, only 38.6% of main speakers were women, while the estimated rate of women of the specialty was 61.9%. They found a positive correlation between the rate of women in organizing committees and the number of female speakers. Therefore, they proposed balancing the organizing committees of congresses as one of the measures to correct this gender bias.

Back in 2014, Martin proposed a decalogue4 of measures to achieve gender balance in congresses suggesting the collection and reporting of gender distribution data for different congresses, and the implementation of gender policies to reduce disparities.

One of the limitations of our study is the absence of updated data on the number and gender distribution of dermatologists. We couldn’t find similar studies either that compared gender distribution in previous congresses and established a trend. Additionally, the sample is small, and we couldn’t collect variables that could have an impact on the causes of the disparities reported.

In the authors’ opinion, women dermatologists may find it difficult to take the stand or coordinate scientific meetings. Only in the subgroup of oral presentations, where speakers do not need an invitation to present their scientific work, an equitable gender distribution was observed. The fact of the matter is that women might be receiving fewer invitations to participate in main presentations or meeting coordination. Other factors such as balancing work and family life, or the absence of female role models could also have an impact. Implementing gender policies in congresses could be a first step to reduce these differences.

In conclusion, there is a gender gap in the analyzed dermatology congresses. Men are more frequently main speakers, moderators, and coordinators of scientific meetings than women, despite the trend towards feminization in dermatology. It would be interesting to expand the study to determine the causes and consequences of these differences.

References
[1]
Constitución Española. Boletín Oficial del Estado, 29 de diciembre de 1978, núm. 311. Art. 9.2. Art. 14.
[2]
Organización Médica Colegial de España (OMC). Diagnóstico de género de la profesión médica. Cuadernos CGCOM. [Internet.] Consejo General de Colegios Oficiales de Médicos. OMC; 2018. [accessed 27 May 2022]. Available from: https://fundadeps.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Diagnostico-de-Genero-de-la-profesion.pdf.
[3]
A. Arora, Y. Kaur, F. Dossa, R. Nisenbaum, D. Little, N.N. Baxter.
Proportion of Female Speakers at Academic Medical Conferences Across Multiple Specialties and Regions.
JAMA Netw Open., 3 (2020), pp. e2018127
[4]
J.L. Martin.
Ten Simple Rules to Achieve Conference Speaker Gender Balance.
PLoS Comput Biol., 10 (2014), pp. e1003903
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