Julie Pilitsis speaks to NeuroNews about the newly formed ‘Women in Neuromodulation’ (WIN) committee that seeks to address the underrepresentation of women in the field. The committee had its first meeting late last year, and is gearing up for the next at the International Neuromodulation Society’s 12th World Congress (6–11 June, Montreal, Canada).
Why was the ‘Women in Neuromodulation’ committee formed?
Our goal is to address the lack of gender equality in the field of neuromodulation. Currently, only one woman sits on the executive board of the North American Neuromodulation Society and none on the International Neuromodulation Society (INS). In contrast, women make over 50% of board meetings in the three major neuromodulation device companies. Learning from our colleagues in the industry, we want to close this stark gap that currently exists in our field.
What are the main objectives of the committee?
Our mission is to educate, inspire, and encourage women in neuromodulation of multiple medical specialties to realise their professional and personal goals and to serve the discipline in addressing the issues inherent to training and maintaining a diverse and balanced workforce.
In your view, why do more female physicians need to be encouraged to work in the field of neuromodulation?
We need to encourage more female physicians to work in the field because training and mentorship are vital components of medical education. This demands an inclusive learning environment and in order to do that, students and physicians need to be exposed to people who “look like them” on the podium at national meetings, in leadership positions at their institutions, and as role models in their everyday lives. In addition, mentors serve as invaluable resources, providing guidance and opportunities for young professionals who are still early in their careers.
What do you think are the potential barriers that prevent women from choosing neuromodulation as a specialty?
Largely, the underrepresentation of women in our field is one of the biggest barriers that prevents women from choosing neuromodulation. The male domination of our field can be discouraging to women, since this could imply occasional social segregation on top of an already challenging career.
How can these barriers be overcome?
It is essential to start at the ground up and inspire women at all levels of training and professions. To that end, one of the major focuses of WIN has been to promote mentorship of medical students, residents, trainees as well as create a professional network. In addition, we would like to provide forums and sponsor seminars wherein women in neuromodulation, can consider, discuss and share current knowledge and information.
The ‘Women in Neuromodulation’ committee had its first meeting at the North American Neuromodulation Society conference in December. Can you please tell us how it went?
The kick-off went great! The energy was high and we had a big turn-out, with both women and men in attendance. Part of the night featured a Q&A panel of prominent female figures in the industry of neuromodulation. Listening to their perspectives was a great way to share ideas and bounce ideas off of each other regarding the challenges women face in this field. It was great to see all parts of the community come together with physicians, midlevels, corporate representatives, resident physicians, nurses, as well as medical students partaking in the discussion.
When will the next meeting be?
Our next meeting will be at the International Neuromodulation Society (INS) Conference in Montreal on 10 June at 6pm. All men and women are welcome.