What the SWIU Census reveals about the state of women in urology

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"As the number of women urologists continues to increase, the field of urology must pay attention to their needs and professional satisfaction as they will constitute an increasing proportion of the future urologic work force," writes Lourdes Guerrios Rivera, MD, MSc.

Lourdes Guerrios Rivera, MD, MSc, is an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine and the introductory research program co-director at the Veterans Administration Caribbean Healthcare System in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She served as the lead author on the recent Urology publication, “Understanding current demographics, practice patterns, and concerns of women in urology: Analysis from the 2022 Society of Women in Urology Census Task Force.”1

Lourdes Guerrios Rivera, MD, MSc

Lourdes Guerrios Rivera, MD, MSc

Urology remains a male-dominated specialty, even though recent evidence has shown that it has had the highest rate of growth in female residents compared with other surgical specialties.2 In July 2021, the Society of Women in Urology (SWIU) created several task forces focused on engagement with industry, equity and pay disparities, and diversity in residency recruitment. This included the creation of a Census Task Force to describe the current demographics, needs, and challenges of women in urology.

An electronic survey was created and distributed via email and social media among members, residents, fellows, and female urologists practicing in the US and its territories between February 2022 and May 2022. There were 379 total female respondents. Of these, 75% were urologists in practice, 15.1% were residents, and 9.8% were fellows.

Our survey showed several key findings.1 First, more than half of the women in the urologic work force are in academia (55.7%). Second, although there is marked underrepresentation of minorities, with the majority (71%) as White, followed by 16.4% Asian/Asian Americans and 6.3% African American, the discrepancies are less stark among women compared with the existing overall American Urological Association Census. Third, most female urologists work full time (89.6%), but compensation patterns vary among academic and private practices, but still female urologists earn less.

The SWIU Census findings have several implications. Although most female urologists in practice have an average age of 42.9 years (SD = 18.6), the younger group of urologists, particularly those currently in training, will soon be entering the work force. This will change the current landscape of urologists.

Most importantly, the SWIU Census group evaluated critical issues such as sexual harassment, reproductive needs, and barriers that women in urology experience as well burnout to inform future research, initiatives, and activism for the upcoming generation of women in urology.

As the number of women urologists continues to increase, the field of urology must pay attention to their needs and professional satisfaction as they will constitute an increasing proportion of the future urologic work force.

This Census is part of a continuous effort to address the unmet need for gender-specific information from urologic surgeons. SWIU, as an organization, is critical in encouraging and identifying the specific needs of its membership.

It was a joy to work in this SWIU Census Task Force project, as it will delineate specific female urologists' needs and hopefully incorporate changes into the culture. Moving forward, it will be important to further engage female urologists from diverse backgrounds to further promote inclusion and representation in our field and to develop future interventions directed to their specific needs.

The Census Task Force project is supported by SWIU.

References:

1. Guerrios-Rivera L, Monn MF, De S, et al. Understanding current demographics, practice patterns, and concerns of women in urology: Analysis from the 2022 Society of Women in Urology Census Task Force. Urology. 2023;S0090-4295(23)00670-2. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2023.07.024

2. Halpern JA, Lee UJ, Wolff EM, et al. Women in urology residency, 1978-2013: A critical look at gender representation in our specialty. Urology. 2016;92:20-25. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2015.12.092

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