Missing in action: Women speakers at the ASN Board Review Course

One of the many benefits for physicians on Twitter is the ability to follow along and learn from live tweeting of conferences that we aren’t able to attend in person. So I was pleased to see a few prolific tweeters in the audience at the American Society of Nephrology Board Review Course and Update (#ASNBRC). As excellent #Nephpearls were being shared over the first conference day, I couldn’t help but notice that all of the speakers were male. “Maybe I missed some women”, I thought and reviewed the conference schedule online. 


There wasn’t a single woman physician speaker on the schedule until the fourth day of the 6-day conference.

In fact, of 32 individual speakers for the course only 4 (12.5%) are woman. About 25% of adult nephrologists in the US are female, however this number is rising with women representing 40% of the "under 40" age group.

This is in contrast to pediatrics, where 52.6% of nephrologists under the age of 70 are female. As I’ve advanced in my career, I’ve started to notice (and speak out about) the inequality in representation of women as committee members, speakers in conferences, grant recipients, and award winners in medical organizations.

Nephtwitter responded with a vengeance with a number of suggestions for highly qualified women to participate in next year’s conference.

The ASN Board Review Course is certainly not the first (and I’m sure won’t be the last) meeting where too few women are invited to speak. I hope that shining a light on the issue will raise awareness that this is a problem and keep the pressure on our organizations to make changes in the future. Women nephrologists need to look up from the audience and see role models for their careers who look like them. If they don’t, you can be certain that I will notice and make sure everone is aware.