In 2017 women reached an important milestone in the realm of medicine when they became the majority of students enrolled in US medical schools. This good news does not mean that people like Hedvig Hricak can sit back and relax. Now Professor Hricak is gearing up for the next struggle, to see more women in positions of authority in the healthcare professions.
Despite the fact that there are more female med students than male studying medicine today, the sad fact is that medical professorships and directorships are almost always filled by men. A lecture series organized by Professor Hedvig Hricak, which took place at the 2019 European Congress of Radiology, “Women in Focus,” dealt with exactly this issue.
Held in Vienna this year, the Congress is part of the annual meeting of the European Society of Radiology. Professor Hricak asked well-respected speakers to discuss the gender gap during “Women in Focus,” helping participants to understand the various dimensions of women taking on leadership roles in medicine.
‘Taking on a leadership position is always quite a decision,’ commented Professor Hricak. But this is true whether we are talking about a male or female in such a position. The question is why don’t we see women at the top? Although mentioned, physical and psychological differences were dismissed as the real culprit. Perhaps the problem lies in the female tendency to hesitate rather than to take the initiative?
Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director, one of the few women who does hold a high position as one of the leading executives at the British NHS, spoke at the Congress:
‘Resilience is essential, especially around fundamental principles,’ Palmer emphasized. ‘But, it’s just as important to know when you have to be flexible and to make concessions if you want to reach your goals.’
President of the Congress, Lorenzo Derchi took a hopeful view of the future of women in top positions in medicine, especially radiology.
‘Today, leading positions are mostly held by old men like me. But this culture of male prevalence is already being shaken up, and in a few years’ time many of these roles will be filled by women. Radiology can only benefit from the end of this inequality.’