Most mentors in vitreoretinal subspecialty are men


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Women in the vitreoretinal subspecialty experience male-dominated mentorship in training, according to a poster presentation at Real World Ophthalmology.

Serena M. Shah said that medical retina and surgical retina have attracted the smallest percentage of women among all ophthalmic subspecialties, with women making up 19% of retina specialists in the U.S. in 2018.



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Women in the vitreoretinal subspecialty experience male-dominated mentorship in training, according to a poster presentation at Real World Ophthalmology.

“As the number of female physicians increases every year, attitude towards an academic career has really increased in relevance,” she said. “However, the effect of mentorship, if any, and work-life decisions, such as childbearing, marriage, divorce, etc, on career outcomes have remained poorly studied in this group.”

Shah and colleagues sent a survey to collect demographic information about and assess the effect of personal, professional and academic experiences on publication productivity of academically affiliated female vitreoretinal specialists in the U.S.

Productivity was determined by h-index, defined as the number of publications co-authored and the standard of scientometrics of a researcher’s impact, and a researcher’s most productive year, defined as the first year in which the highest number of publications were recorded in the Scopus author database.

The mean h-index for respondents was 17.2, which Shah said was higher than in some other specialties.

Out of 59 respondents, 17 completed a research year in medical school. Of those, 16 reported that it was productive because of their choice in mentor. The majority of mentors listed by the respondents were men (82.4%).

Out of 48 respondents who reported having children, 19 delayed childbearing until after their fellowship, while 16 underwent childbearing during their fellowship. The most productive year for respondents corresponded to years of residency graduation and years of fellowship graduation.

Although mentorship is dominated by men, Shah said that 56.1% of female members of the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology report that having a same-gender mentee was important and that efforts are needed to create more gender-equal mentorship.

Shah also said there is lack of information on greater burnout after, lack of full pay during and dissatisfaction with maternity leave.

“Our cohort might have waited to have children until after training because maternity leave comes with challenges and stigma,” she said.

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