Honoured to be a guest on Dr Lana Del Porto’s Ophthalmology podcast “Podthalmology” , and sincere thanks to Alcon for commissioning the series from “Bench to Bedside” – Podcasts for Australian Medical Specialists, where leading experts from different fields share their experiences and insights into their specialties.

Dr Del Porto and I met for the first time online in July/August 2022 and deep dived into an incredible session about unconscious gender bias and our own personal experiences, dipping in and out of the literature as we spoke. I was struck by her insight, inquisitiveness and also by the similarity of our experiences despite us not having actually even physically met. She is a gifted surgeon, with her passion for teaching and mentorship really shining in her podcast – generated by doctors, for doctors – that delves into topics such as “Training next generation eye surgeons” with Dr Jacqueline Beltz, “New intraocular lens technology and its impact on patients” with Clinical Associate Professor Smita Agarwal, and “Audits in Ophthalmology” with Dr Ben Connell. You can learn more about her at www.lanadelporto.com.

Note that this podcast is only accessible to Australian doctors through your online registration and AHPRA number and can be accessed here: https://benchtobedside.com.au/

(If you’ve heard some of my work in this area, please skip to around about 6:19 mins where we really get into the nitty gritty of the talk and share openly and intimately about our thoughts in this area.)

One fact that I was particularly startled by, was the fact that the percentage of fully qualified female surgeons in ophthalmology is about 30% in Australia and New Zealand, despite the percentage of trainees being approximately 50%. I wasn’t aware that we still have so far to go.

Thanks for listening x

For people wanting references to some of the studies we quote in the talk, please feel welcome to find them here:

Wenneras C, Wold A. Nepotism and sexism in peer-review. Nature. 1997 May 22;387(6631):341-3. doi: 10.1038/387341a0. PMID: 9163412.

Gill HK, Niederer RL, Danesh-Meyer HV. Gender differences in surgical case volume among ophthalmology trainees. Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2021 Sep;49(7):664-671. doi: 10.1111/ceo.13969. Epub 2021 Jul 24. PMID: 34218497.

Khan S, Kirubarajan A, Shamsheri T, Clayton A, Mehta G. Gender bias in reference letters for residency and academic medicine: a systematic review. Postgrad Med J. 2021 Jun 2:postgradmedj-2021-140045. doi: 10.1136/postgradmedj-2021-140045. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34083370.

Lin F, Oh SK, Gordon LK, Pineles SL, Rosenberg JB, Tsui I. Gender-based differences in letters of recommendation written for ophthalmology residency applicants. BMC Med Educ. 2019 Dec 30;19(1):476. doi: 10.1186/s12909-019-1910-6. PMID: 31888607; PMCID: PMC6937988.

Trix, F., & Psenka, C. (2003). Exploring the color of glass: Letters of recommendation for female and male medical faculty. Discourse & Society, 14(2), 191–220. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926503014002277

Duma N, Durani U, Woods CB, Kankeu Fonkoua LA, Cook JM, Wee C, Fuentes HE, Gonzalez-Velez M, Murphy MC, Jain S, Marshall AL, Graff SL, Knoll MA. Evaluating Unconscious Bias: Speaker Introductions at an International Oncology Conference. J Clin Oncol. 2019 Dec 20;37(36):3538-3545. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.01608. Epub 2019 Oct 11. PMID: 31603705.

Files JA, Mayer AP, Ko MG, Friedrich P, Jenkins M, Bryan MJ, Vegunta S, Wittich CM, Lyle MA, Melikian R, Duston T, Chang YH, Hayes SN. Speaker Introductions at Internal Medicine Grand Rounds: Forms of Address Reveal Gender Bias. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2017 May;26(5):413-419. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2016.6044. Epub 2017 Feb 16. PMID: 28437214.

Halawa OA, Sekimitsu S, Boland MV, Zebardast N. Sex-Based Differences in Medicare Reimbursements among Ophthalmologists Persist across Time. Ophthalmology. 2022 Sep;129(9):1056-1063. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2022.05.006. Epub 2022 May 17. PMID: 35588946; PMCID: PMC9730864.