Participants in a group for women in radiology report high satisfaction, improved careers

Radiology has been lagging behind other healthcare specialties for quite some time when it comes to gender equality. Could the creation of groups for women in radiology (WIR) be a step in the right direction?

Back in 2010, women from one institution’s department of radiology established a group for WIR to “convene, share personal and work-related advice and learn skills to help advance their careers.” Six years later, the group’s founders surveyed its members to see how they feel about the group so far, publishing their findings in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Overall, based on feedback from 30 women, satisfaction was high. Using a scale of 1 to 4, with 1 meaning “very satisfied” and 4 meaning “very unsatisfied,” the mean overall score was 1.42. In addition, 80 percent of respondents said they had applied knowledge taken directly from the WIR group to their own careers. Eighty-seven percent said they found the group to be helpful to their career as radiologists, and 83 percent said they would recommend other departments begin a similar group.

In addition, 94 percent of trainees and junior faculty said the group helped them “expand their internal network” within the radiology department. For senior faculty, that number was 69 percent.

“Our data reveal that the benefits of a support group differ on the basis of seniority,” wrote Kara Gaetke-Udager, MD, department of radiology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues. “Trainees and junior faculty were more likely to report expanded networking, gaining a mentor, and increased involvement in clinical research and teaching. This may be because these members have more to gain in these areas than senior faculty, who have already shown their capacity in these domains and been promoted.”

Ninety-three percent of respondents said camaraderie had increased as a result of the WIR group. While one participant said they loved to “share common experiences and learn from others,” another added that “it’s always nice to learn that you are not the exception.”

Gaetke-Udager et al. added that some male colleagues did view the WIR group as “exclusive or divisive” when it was first formed, but many of those opinions have changed over time.

“Men in the department have always been welcome to attend WIR group events, and recently we have hosted sessions attended by both men and women residents,” the authors wrote. “We plan to continue to incorporate issues that might be of overlapping interest to both women and men in radiology, such as family leave and work-life balance.”