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Celebrating Women in Medicine Month

September is recognized in the medical community as Women in Medicine Month. It is a time to celebrate advances, recognize continued shortcomings and challenges, and rededicate ourselves as healthcare professionals to ensure that our profession is one that provides equal opportunities for women.

When thinking about opportunity in an organizational context, it boils down to mindset. Is it the mindset of an organization’s leadership to infuse opportunity into all aspects of its mission, operations, and activities? Too often, organizations provide lip service to such goals but perpetuate practices that limit equal opportunity.  Hiring and promotion, awarding of research grants, choice of conference faculty,  acceptance of publications and a host of other factors affect an individual’s career development.  Every organization must have systems and processes that address inequities.  Those leading an organization must ensure authenticity and accountability in pursuing such goals, addressing both the obvious and the not so obvious, to effect real change. 

The ATS Executive Committee (EC) is currently composed of three women and three men. We, the ATS EC, are committed to cultivating and encouraging equality and opportunity for all in our organization.  We strive to be welcoming to everyone and agnostic to factors such as race and gender when considering individuals for committee assignments, conference presentations, volunteer opportunities, awards, and leadership positions. As an example, the current make-up of our Board of Directors includes 19 women on a board of 28 individuals, a reflection to that commitment. Given that half of our board consists of assembly chairs elected by their colleagues, we are proud that our members have embraced diversity, inclusion, and representation as a core principle of our society.

Nevertheless, Women in Medicine Month reminds us that there is more that can and should be done to achieve gender equity. We all have biases that lead to missteps and omissions, however unintentional. For example, we recognize the need to have a more diverse body of journal reviewers and editors, and thus have asked our Publications Policy Committee to develop a plan to address this issue. 

The mindset of gender equality needs to be present at ATS, at our home institutions, and in any organization we support. We all have a key role in attaining diversity, inclusion, and representation in pediatric and adult pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.

Juan C. Celedón, MD, DrPH, ATSF, President
Lynn M. Schnapp, MD, ATSF, Incoming President
James M. Beck, MD, ATSF, Immediate Past President
Gregory P. Downey, MD, ATSF, Vice President
M. Patricia Rivera, MD, ATSF, Secretary-Treasurer
Karen Collishaw, MPP, CAE, Executive Director