Supporting Women in Cardiology

Women in Cardiology: Building a Healthy Culture

Highlights from the BCS 2021 Virtual Conference

By Saadia Aslam

Dr Derek and Emma Harrington: Cardiology through my daughter’s eyes
Dr Rebecca Dobson: Back to the future
Dr Dipti Itchaporia: Leading a team and maintaining clinician well-being 

An excellent and insightful session which highlighted the potential causes of lack of recruitment of women to the field of cardiology, the current initiatives that are being undertaken by the BCS Women in Cardiology group and finally, how to lead a team whilst ensuring clinician well-being.

The first talk highlighted that previously it may have been assumed that women are not interested in cardiology and hence there is a lack of women in the field. However, now it is evident that career choices are influenced by the way an individual is treated by professionals in the respective speciality. This ultimately affects the decision-making process of the young individuals in terms of choosing a specialty. 

Emma Harrington, a fifth year medical student elaborated on her experience as a female medical student. She has witnessed different teaching styles but found that “teaching by humiliation” in cardiology is a common phenomenon. As women tend to underestimate their capabilities, this particular teaching style is more likely to impact them negatively and act as a barrier to pursuing this specialty. Furthermore, Emma often found doctors giving her career advice based on her gender. 

In the second talk, Dr Rebecca Dobson, BCS Women in Cardiology (WiC) Council Representative discussed the exciting upcoming BCS initiatives to address the under representation of women:

  • Showcase of WiC to highlight female role models and mentors in the field for every sub-specialty in cardiology (see link below). 
  • The team is collaborating with the affiliated societies to actively engage with junior trainees and medical students at early stages to attract them to the field. 
  • Networking at a national and regional level will be facilitated to support women in cardiology around the UK a WiC Group has been set up to drive changes in the field and meet the aims of WiC such as promoting equality amongst males and females.
  • Development of resources that will be useful for female cardiologists, their supervisors and colleagues to support their female counterparts .

The final talk was presented by Interventional Cardiologist and current President of the American College of Cardiology, Dr Dipti Itchaporia.

She emphasised that in order to succeed as a leader it is imperative to firstly, build a team that is diverse as this aids development of ideas and growth of the team. Secondly, to educate the team about non-technical aspects such as burnout, the availability of resources and to cultivate a culture of self-care. Thirdly, to lead by example and finally empower the team and create a community that can discuss experiences and takes joy in work.

These factors will contribute to a highly functioning team that will achieve and celebrate more. Radical change is needed that needs to be driven by both men and women to address the imbalance. 

Full session available On Demand:
WiC BCS page:
Showcase of LTFT trainees and consultants: