Physician leaders discuss need for greater diversity

ACOG President Elect Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, says ACOG needs better data in order to improve diversity in its leadership ranks.

ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, says ACOG needs better data in order to improve diversity in its leadership ranks.

If ACOG is to be as strong and responsive to its members in coming decades as it is today, the organization must embrace not only its current diversity, but the changing face of its potential future leadership, a task force led by ACOG President James T. Breeden, MD, reported Sunday, May 5, at the Annual Clinical Meeting.

The Congress Advisory Council meeting focused on results of Dr. Breeden’s initiative, launched last year, to ensure that ACOG’s future leadership ranks will reflect the gender, generational, and other shifts occurring in its membership.

Noting that men between ages 55 and 65 currently predominate among ACOG’s district, section, and committee chairs, Breeden said one challenge is to put younger members on track toward more organizational responsibility.

“The question is ‘How do we encourage people of a different generation to become involved in ACOG?’” he said.

Just as important, he said, is responding to the growing numbers of women in ACOG. While nearly half of all ACOG Fellows are female, about 70% of Junior Fellows are women, according to data gathered by the task force during the last six months.

Retaining the interest of young female ob-gyns in being leaders as they are also pulled toward increasing home and family responsibilities will be a challenge in coming years, several task force members said.

Task force member and ACOG President Elect Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, said the organization needs to take a closer look at its own makeup to determine how best to improve gender, generational, and ethnic diversity in its leadership ranks. “One of the things we’ve got to do better is gather better data,” she said.

The task force’s youngest member, Meadow M. Good, DO, said young physicians should not hesitate to “jump in” and take on leadership roles wherever they see an opportunity. “Magic happens outside your comfort zone, so step outside,” said Dr. Good, chair of the Junior Fellow Congress Advisory Council.

Results of electronic surveys of the 60+ attendees who responded to a series of questions suggested that they see structural changes, such as shorter terms for ACOG officers, to create more leadership opportunities for various entries.