A little over a year ago, I wrote an op-ed piece for ENT Today titled, “The Gender Gap in Otolaryngology: How do we make it disappear?” (February 2010). I challenged our specialty to find innovative and inclusive ways to tap into the extraordinary pool of talent found in our women otolaryngologists. And thanks to some extraordinarily enlightened leadership, we did it! Way beyond all hopes and expectations, the men and women of our specialty have paved the way for meaningful and fruitful change. Three major events need reporting:
Explore this issue:April 2011
1) Women in Otolaryngology (WIO) now have section status at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). Our application to the Board of Directors (BOD) articulated our mission and vision for the workforce of women otolaryngologists, which aligned well with those of the AAO-HNS. Incredible support from the executive committee leadership and from the Board of Directors made this a reality in December 2010.
Otolaryngology is the only surgical sub-specialty without a separate women’s organization. WIO have chosen to share the playing field and establish ourselves as a force for positive change from within our Academy. We believe our shared successes can be a model for women’s advancement in other specialties as they witness our enhanced abilities for accelerated change for the common good of our specialty.
2) WIO established an endowment fund. The AAO-HNS began the Hal Foster, MD, Endowment Society, a major endowment campaign, in 2010. Only a few days before the Academy meeting, Pell Ann Wardrop, MD, medical director of the Saint Joseph Sleep Wellness Center and assistant professor of surgery in the Division of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, floated the idea to create the WIO endowment within the Hal Foster, MD, Endowment Society.
In five days, as part of the overall endowment fundraising drive, over $400,000 was pledged to the WIO endowment with no prior solicitation. This includes more than 15 Millennium Society life members and accounted for about half of the amount raised so far for the Hal Foster, MD, Endowment Society. This incredible groundswell came only from the women (and a few men) attending the meeting. The endowment will be used for programs to foster career development for women otolaryngologists, socio-anthropological research on how to integrate women into the mainstream, efforts to promote work-life integration, leadership development/ recognition and a speaker’s fund to bring insightful, inspiring speakers to the annual meeting.