The 2018 #RADxx winners discussed how we can increase diversity in radiology and informatics during a panel webinar hosted by SIIM and sponsored by Ambra Health. During the webinar, panelists highlighted the importance of advocacy, mentoring, emotional intelligence, and supporting parents in the workplace. The panelists included RADxx Trailblazer, Nina Kottler, MD, VP, Clinical Operations Radiology Partners, RADxx Champion Laura Coombs, Ph.D., Senior Director of Informatics and Data Science Institute, American College of Radiology, and RADxx Trailblazer, Lindsey Shea, MD, Radiology Resident IU School of Medicine. The panel was moderated by Ambra Health Senior Marketing Manager and RADxx Steering Committee Member, Catherine Slotnick, and Cheryl Carey, Executive Director, SIIM.
Mentoring & Advocacy
The first section centered around mentoring and advocacy. Our panelists resoundingly agreed that a mentor and sponsor are two very different, yet necessary tool that individuals need in one’s career. Lindsey defined a mentor as, “someone helping you in your career whereas a sponsor is helping you to take the correct steps to advance in your career.” Nina jumped in to share that as someone who has both mentored and sponsored in her career, she finds it highly impactful to share mistakes and get rid of the illusion that successful people never experienced any bumps along the way.
Women in Imaging & Informatics
The next section dove specifically into the career field of imaging and informatics. As a radiology resident, Lindsey shared that optics certainly matter – women (and men, too) are typically drawn to groups in which they see others like themselves. With only 21% of practicing radiologists today being female, the specialty can sometimes seem like a “boys club.” These optics can affect women of color even more. This is where mentoring and reaching out to other women to introduce them to the field is absolutely critical.
We know that diversity in any field is a key driver to innovation. Nina noted that it’s well documented how diversity improves productivity and employee satisfaction. Laura even highlighted how AI algorithms work better when a more diverse group has been a part of their creation.
Our panelists all agreed that whether in interviews, meetings or at conferences, they had sometimes felt pressured to act in a certain way when they were the only women in the room. We’ve had several contributed articles on this topic that highlight how women sometimes feel they must be more or less opinionated in these situations. Laura recommended that women should act like themselves since after all, each individual’s unique personality, whether more quiet or outgoing, is what adds diversity to any discussion. Additionally, Nina shared that, “sometimes the problem is not even noticed – you may need to speak to your employer for help.” Our panelists also suggested that bringing hard data to the table, including when asking for a raise or promotion, is of the utmost importance. Facts are facts and can build a strong argument.
A question received a the end of the webinar asked whether groups like RADxx possibly promote gender over skill. Laura shared a perspective she had gotten from her own teenage son and said, “it’s tempting to say genders don’t matter, and we’re all equal, but by not acknowledging that there’s an issue, it only intensifies the disparity.”
In today’s world, the disparity still exists, particularly when it comes to child-rearing, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.
Our panelists reached the conclusion that companies need to be sure that they’re creating supportive environments because this will attract diverse employees which contribute to the competitive advantage. As mothers, both Nina and Laura shared that there often is no perfect work-life balance and being honest about one’s challenges with other women and men really can open the dialogue. Organizations should also get creative, Nina noted that “30% of women are looking for part time jobs.” A mix of part-time shifts can help attract a variety of talent. Our panelists applauded the recent efforts made by organizations like RSNA and the ACR to have both daycare and breastfeeding accommodations at their conferences allowing even those with young children to attend.
Thank you to our wonderful panel and webinar attendees to contributing to an engaging discussion! Watch the on-demand webinar below.