Introducing RAD=

Introducing RADequal

When we gathered five years ago, at the annual RSNA conference in November 2016 to kick off RADxx, we could only hope that our initiative would make the kind of impact that we aspired to. Despite significant progress being made in the U.S. to increase the overall representation of women in healthcare, radiology has lagged behind. In fact, only about a quarter of active radiologists in the country are women, according to a 2016 Association of American Medical Colleges report.

The lack of representation gets further entrenched across the industry through fewer women participating in speaking engagements, represented on boards, or in other leadership positions. When women see other women speaking, when they read their byline in an academic journal, when they see other women serving in leadership positions in colleges and on boards, they see that not everyone in radiology looks the same. Many will say to themselves, “that could be me,” which in turn fosters a virtuous cycle and welcoming environment for women to thrive in our specialty.

Fast forward five years from that first RADxx event and the impact of our initiative can be felt across the globe — from regular virtual meet-ups and educational webinars to promoting a speakers’ bureau, recognizing outstanding leadership through an awards program, and even one-on-one mentorship, and most of all, friendship.

We are a robust, growing, and thriving community of women, men, and nonbinary individuals — united in the pursuit of better representation of women in the field of medical imaging and informatics.

But as our organization has grown, so have we. And through conversations with our members, we realized our name is inconsistent with the values and goals of inclusivity to which we aspire. The two female chromosomes to represent women in our name is a narrow and binary view of gender expression that excluded some in our community.

From today forward, RADxx (RAD Women) is becoming RAD= (RAD Equal). Our mission remains the same — to advance the representation of women in radiology and informatics, but our name better reflects the inclusive organization we are. Our pursuit is equality, and now, so is our name.

Getting More Women Speakers in Radiology & Informatics

Getting More Women Speakers in Radiology & Informatics

This article by Ambra Health Senior Marketing Manager, Catherine Slotnick, was originally published on MedTech Boston on August 12, 2019.

If you’ve ever been to a meeting or conference in healthcare, there may be something that you have noticed: the lack of female speakers. And if you haven’t noticed before, I guarantee you will once you start paying attention.

Some have even coined this trend the “manel” — or the all-male panel.

Healthcare isn’t the only industry with this dilemma; a quick Google search will yield plenty of results across IT, engineering, computer science, academia, and more. In fact, there are even some blogs and Tumblr accounts that make fun of this very topic.

However, it’s no laughing matter, especially when it comes to healthcare. Geraldine McGinty M.D., MBA, FACR, Chief Strategy, and Contracting Officer, Weill Cornell Medicine Physician Organization and current Chair of the Board of Chancellors for the American College of Radiology, has been an outspoken voice in this space.

“Diverse representation in radiology is critical to effectively addressing the needs of our diverse patient population. Organizations should be thoughtful about this as they craft their agendas and panels,” said McGinty.

It is well documented that more diverse voices at the table produce better outcomes. According to a Forbes study of 321 executives in companies that grossed $500 million or more annually, one of the key findings was that, “diversity is a key driver of innovation and is a critical component of being successful on a global scale.”

McGinty is a founder and member of the steering committee of RADxx, a movement that fosters networking and mentorship opportunities for leaders in radiology and informatics. Recently, RADxx launched a speakers bureau featuring talented female speakers in the space. Today, the bureau has over 20 women including industry experts like Nicole Saphier, M.D., Director of Breast Imaging, MSK Monmouth and frequent health industry commentator; Carol Wu, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; and Olga R. Brook, M.D., Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Boston, M.A., and Clinical Director of CT at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

One study, Trends in the Proportion of Female Speakers at Medical Conferences in the United States and in Canada, 2007 to 2017, highlights that while the number of female speakers is on the rise, only about one-third of all speakers at medical conferences today are women.

The goal of the new RADxx speakers bureau, curated and vetted by the committee, is to promote more diversity in meeting and conference agendas.

“When I ask why there aren’t any women on a panel, I frequently get the same response; we didn’t know who to ask,” says Amy Kotsenas, M.D., RADxx steering committee member and Neuroradiologist & Clinical Informaticist at the Mayo Clinic. The RADxx speakers bureau provides a list of highly qualified women who are willing and eager to speak on panels, webinars, and more.

But as Kotsenas actively seeks out women to speak, she sometimes meets resistance.

“I find women to be highly critical of themselves. Even the most qualified candidate is nervous that she isn’t good enough. Comparatively, men are usually more confident in their abilities to speak on a topic even when it was one that they are not experts,” said Kotsenas.

She noted that many women (including herself as a recovering patient!) suffer from imposter syndrome, or a feeling of inadequacy despite being highly qualified. The best solution for imposter syndrome? Encouragement and opportunity. Organizations like RADxx work to sponsor and mentor other women and encourage them to join industries like radiology and informatics where female membership is still low. With only 21% of practicing radiologists today being female, the specialty can sometimes seem like a “boys’ club.”

Optics are important here; medical school residents often site dedicated exposure as a key reason for selecting a specialty during medical school. Many are looking for a mentor, but a mentor and sponsor, although the terms are often used interchangeably, are two very different yet necessary individuals needed in one’s career. Members of the RADxx steering committee have defined a mentor as someone who offers help and advice, but a sponsor is someone who guides you in the steps to advance your career, including advocating for you in the workspace.

Nina Kottler, RADxx steering committee member and VP of Clinical Operations at Radiology Partners, shared on a live webinar event 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. Perhaps, if we encourage women that they aren’t an imposter but rather, a highly qualified individual, they will feel more confident in their abilities to take part in conference agendas.

And for those women who have already achieved those goals, it is important to reflect back on who sponsored them along the way and consider offering the same hand to younger women in the field.

RAD Women Leaders

Calling all RAD Women (and Men!): Let’s Bring More Diversity to Informatics Leadership

RAD Women (#RADxx) was founded in the Fall of 2016 and is an exciting initiative that focuses on fostering networking and mentorship opportunities for women involved in radiology, informatics, and IT management of radiology systems.

Changing the Status Quo

The idea for RADxx first began between Dr. Geraldine McGinty, a practicing radiologist and thought leader in the imaging and informatics space, and other female leaders when they noticed that were often the only women in the room during events.  Women had shared similar experiences in the technology sector, where they are often underrepresented in executive leadership roles and corporate board seats.

With a shared passion to change the status-quo, a steering committee of talented women in the radiology and informatics space, joined by RADxx sponsor Ambra Health, committed to doing something to change the industry.

The American College of Radiology’s annual Commission on Human Resources Workforce Survey shared that women were found to be less likely to pursue a career in radiology than men, with just 21% of practicing radiologists being women. While we can’t pinpoint one factor alone to account for these findings, studies have shown that across all medical specialties, students are more likely to be influenced by a strong mentor in that field. Mentorship, career sponsors, and networking opportunities are lacking for women in radiology and informatics, and the primary goal of RADxx is to make these opportunities available.

Since RADxx has been established, we now host an annual awards ceremony recognizing leaders and advocates in the radiology and informatics space. A Speakers Bureau is also available on our website to help promote women speakers on panels and at events. We also host regular Tweet Chats, Webinars, and share the latest news and insights to keep our community up to date.

Join us!

There are many ways to be a part of the RADxx community. Stay updated with everything RADxx by signing up for our monthly newsletter. You can also check out upcoming networking events. Get involved by submitting articles to our site, applying to the Speakers Bureau, or nominating yourself or someone you know to the RADxx awards!

RADxx Winners Share Insights on Webinar

RADxx Winners Share Insights on Webinar

Cocktails for Change 2018The 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.

Work-Life Balance

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.


Women in Leadership: Promoting Women in Radiology & Informatics

#RADxx Moms

#RADxx Moms

By the end of May, my 2-year old daughter will have accompanied me to eight radiology meetings. I’m fortunate that my husband has a job that allows him some flexibility to travel, and that he’s an amazing dad who loves going on adventures with his little girl. But when we’re speaking in consecutive sessions at the same meeting, it gets tricky. You may have witnessed one of our resulting baby handoffs at RSNA.

Traveling with your partner and children to a scientific meeting requires careful planning, sometimes up to 6 months or more in advance! I’ve attended meetings where older children have quietly occupied themselves in the front row while their parents have been on the podium as speakers or moderators, keeping a watchful eye. It reminded me of the days when my parents, both schoolteachers, took turns bringing me along when I didn’t have school, but they still had to work. So, if your kids are still young, or if both you and your partner are active in the meeting simultaneously, who watches the children?

Kudos to Camp RSNA and the new childcare option available at ACR 2018, both of which enable #radmamas and #radpapas to advance their careers with their families in tow. Some of our other radiology meetings also offer childcare and lactation facilities, but this hasn’t always been the case. I asked an online group of women radiologists to share their experiences with childcare and, in particular, breastfeeding at radiology meetings.

More than one had been told to pump in the bathroom because a radiology meeting didn’t have lactation facilities. Others did so because the dedicated facilities were too far away from the meeting activities to make the twice- or thrice-daily trek practical.

A number of radiologist moms described challenges when pumping during the boards, with one even sharing that when she called to make arrangements to pump during a test, she was told not to breastfeed so she would not have to pump!

I myself attended a national radiology meeting where the “lactation room” turned out to be a poorly-maintained first-aid office that took 30 minutes to have someone unlock. Instead, I sat at the back of the lecture hall and pumped, unwillingly educating some trainees in attendance about the challenges of being a breastfeeding radiologist. By contrast, at SIIM 2016, the lactation room was a small, clean conference room with a door you could lock for privacy and even a working fridge.

There was a common theme to many of the responses I received from the online group: “I don’t go to meetings when nursing…I know this probably hurts my career”; “[it felt like] everyone disapproved of my recent motherhood”; “I skipped two meetings during the last year of residency; probably not the best for my career”.

There have been some notable improvements in lactation facilities available to radiology moms. Attendees at AIRP can now use a designated lactation room to pump and have access to a refrigerator while at the course. The ABR has also upgraded its lactation facilities, which can be used by test-takers who file for a disability to request extended time during their exams. While we as a specialty have improved in our efforts to support our breastfeeding radiology moms and radiology parents, there is more to be done.

The #RADxx initiative, sponsored by Ambra Health and championed by trailblazer #RADxx Dr. Geraldine McGinty, mentors and sponsors women in imaging informatics. At the upcoming SIIM annual meeting, Dr. Amy Kotsenas and I will host a roundtable on the challenges faced by women (and #radmamas) in this field, but broadly in radiology as a whole. I hope you will join us to brainstorm some suggestions as we look to the future of our specialty.

RADxx Roundtable Save the Date