Use of gender-specific, exclusionary titles such as ‘chairman’ still common among radiology departments

The use of gender-specific, exclusionary leadership titles is still common among radiology departments, despite efforts to make the specialty more inclusive, according to a new analysis.

More than 42% of academic imaging institutions include the position of “chairman,” while “chief” is extremely common among those listing divisional leadership personnel on their websites. The findings are part of a review of 123 unique organizations, published Tuesday, June 8.  

“Gender-specific titles have been demonstrated as exclusionary to the opposite gender, and their use must be considered when addressing the persistent gender gap within academic radiology, practicing radiologists, and medicine as a whole,” lead author Alan Shan, MD, with Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins’ Department of Radiology, and colleagues concluded. “In efforts to promote diversity and foster more inclusive workplaces and educational environments, other terms such as ‘chief,’ which may potentially be perceived as a racial epithet and a form of microaggression, must also be examined.”

Minority and female representation continues to lag in the profession, which is dominated by white men, the authors wrote. Some have called for a culture change to even out the balance and eliminate discriminatory practices in education and the workplace. One possible way, Shan et al. argued, is by adopting inclusive leadership titles that move away from bias and stereotypes.

Wanting to better understand the current landscape, researchers narrowed in on a list of 123 academic radiology departments with functioning webpages. Shan—alongside coinvestigators from Mass General and the University of Maryland—screened sites for the use of these terms. They pored over welcome messages, faculty listings and residency program pages, while also reviewing 14 radiological society sites.

Out of 121 institutions, 42.1% (or 51) used “chairman” at least once. The term appeared to be more common in departments whose chairs were men and lower in the Midwest versus the Northeast. Nearly 83% (67/81) utilized the “chief” title. And among departments included in the study, almost 20% (22/122) had women in chairperson roles, while 31% tapped female staff members in other leadership posts (272/874). Societies, meanwhile, were less likely to employ a “chairman,” with only 1 of 14 doing so.

“We propose that efforts be made to assess exclusionary terminology and practices within academic radiology and their influence on career advancement and job opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups, with the goal of creating a more inclusive and equitable learning and workplace environment for all,” the authors proposed for a possible future analysis.

You can read more of their work in Academic Radiology here.

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