After a couple years’ hiatus, I was fortunate to attend the Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics conference (TCT) last week in Washington, DC. Fresh-faced, eager sales and marketing folks hovered about their thickly carpeted real estate, ready to help anyone with a question about their companies’ latest developments and key differentiators. Tables and light boxes glimmered with colorful new devices which could form the beginnings of some cute new line of jewelry patterned of metal, drug-eluting, or bio-absorbable struts. The exhibit hall was literally brimming with innovative new devices.
Yet ironically, there was something about the meeting that struck me as more old-fashioned—the very low percentage of women. Of course, there were a few women, but the crowd was overwhelmingly male. There was even an article about this in the show’s daily highlights publication. A recent study found that only 4% of interventional cardiologists are female. Not only are their numbers small, they perform the more complex studies and more frequently during off-hours compared to their male counterparts. These women seldom have other female colleagues and are mostly in academic and urban hospitals1.
I recall years ago being the only girl in the fishing club, or one of a handful of young women choosing to concentrate in physics, or more recently the only female playing soccer on Sunday mornings. At times it was lonely, but mostly my passion for fishing, physics, or soccer made the gender composition of my surroundings irrelevant.
I hope that the new advances in cardiology, the registry-oriented accountability which has guided treatment, and the needs of very ill patients and their worried family members can draw more women to practice interventional cardiology. There are activities underway, such as the SCAI Women in Innovations initiative, to help pave the way for more women to enter this field. It would be great to look out across the halls at TCT in a couple years and see a more equitable gender distribution. Until then, thank you to the brave women blazing the trails on these difficult cases, in off hours—you are paving the way for the next group of female cardiologists.
1 Study Finds Women Underrepresented in Interventional Cardiology Field, Cath Lab Digest. September 14, 2014.