So I’m a bit late to the party with our shakedown on WIN @ WCIC thanks to general busyness and life. Alas, I finally have a moment to reflect and report on what was an amazing week.
The World Congress was held in our hometown of Melbourne in mid-October 2019 and WIN was invited to host a workshop on the first day of the conference. The gender equity think tank bought together many passionate minds and was aimed at moving beyond the (often still asked) question of “do we have a problem with gender (in)equity?” to "what can we do about it?" The theme was "from fixing women to changing systems" and was focused on the fact that it is not women who need to change, but that the change that is needed comes from the top.
The first part of the think tank comprised of four great talks from four global superstars - WIN-ANZICS immediate past chair Dr. Lucy Modra, Dr. Flavia Machado (Brasil), Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud (Canada) and Dr. Francesca Rubullota (Italy). Following an introduction from Cara Moore, the speakers took us on a gender equity journey from all around the globe and shared their challenges, successes and personal stories in the different aspects of gender equity in their own countries. Dr. Modra shared the creation of WIN in 2015 and the motivation behind creating such a group that is now part of ANZICS. Interestingly, the metrics published by the College of Intensive Care Medicine in Australia and New Zealand on gender representation is not too dissimilar to other intensive care colleges around the world. Common themes included that simply increasing female representation in medical school and the medical workforce is not reflected by an increase in fellowship representation, research, and leadership in intensive care. Dr. Fox Robichaud talked about the importance of mentorship and more importantly, sponsorship in advancing gender equity in intensive care medicine.
Now onto solutions. What can our male colleagues do, what can heads of unit do, what can we do to improve female representation in intensive care medicine? Many panellists suggested unconscious bias training, particularly for leaders. Learning how to speak up in the face of problematic behaviour was another suggestion and this has certainly been incorporated into CICM’s communication course. A recognition that women in leadership roles have different challenges and the benefit of leadership training was discussed. The audience also contributed to this discussion, citing flexibility, more role modelling and the need for quotas as potential solutions.
So where to next? Well, this is only the beginning of what we hope will be an ongoing discussion. The next step is iWIN 2020 in Sicily, where we continue the conversation and hopefully work on implementing more solutions to improve gender equity across our great speciality.