Redressing the balance – Women in Retina programme gathers momentum

Launched as part of EURETINA’s Roadmap 2025 development plan, the Women in Retina (WiR) programme strives to nurture diversity by giving all genders equal opportunity at all levels in the field of retina.

In ophthalmology the role played by women is immense with more than 50% of ophthalmologists being female. Meanwhile, female representation at leadership levels drops dramatically with only 10% holding leadership positions. Although, more than 50% of ophthalmology peer reviewed papers are written by women, this is not the case in editorials where women are represented in less than 5% of cases. Euretina conducted an online survey designed to understand the perceptions and experiences of women working in the field of retina, and published a  White Paper in the journal Ophthalmologica “Facing up to Gender Inequality in the Field of Retina”.

Co-authored by Anat Loewenstein, General Secretary, and Dara Conlon, Executive Vice President, the editorial highlights the shortcomings in gender equality in the profession and commits the Society to develop a more inclusive environment where its contributors and followers have equal opportunity to thrive in the field of retina.

Initiatives planned by EURETINA include:

  • Earmarking a number of annual grants for young female retinal specialists and long-term fellowships earmarked for women, at least one of which will be laboratory-based for promising research in the field of retina;
  • Actively promoting women in the EURETINA annual congress and other keynote events to ensure fair representation in terms of moderation, invited lectures;
  • Ensuring that the newly formed EURETINA mentorship programme supports equal numbers of men and women in their early career development
  • Develop a virtual platform to facilitate gender-related conversation among participants and host quarterly talks by experts who can assist in professional development and discuss gender-related challenges.

As one of the founders of the WiR programme, Anat Loewenstein acknowledges that the problem of gender imbalance is much wider than the field of retina.

“Obviously, the problem is a complex one and there are a lot of societal and cultural factors which contribute to this situation. While we can’t change the world, the bottom line is that there are issues in gender bias within our own profession that need to be addressed. The Women in Retina programme is our modest effort to make a positive contribution to rectifying this imbalance,” she said.

In addition to Anat Loewenstein and Dara Conlon, the committee of leaders behind the WiR programme include EURETINA Board members Caroline C.W. Klaver, Patricia Udaondo Mirete, Nicole Eter, Tunde Peto, Voraporn Chaikitmongkol, and Sei Moon, EURETINA Digital Director.