AHA Flags Barriers to Women in Interventional Specialties

Women remain the minority of active physicians in interventional cardiology (5%), interventional radiology (10%), and vascular surgery (15%). And with women now making up half of all medical school graduates, encouraging parity of women in these fields needs to start in medical school, the writing group said. 

Barriers to women pursuing careers in vascular intervention include insufficient exposure during core clerkships and early mentorship, low visibility of women in the field, length of training, lifestyle considerations, work culture and environment, and concerns about radiation exposure.

In terms of length of training, the writing group notes that the adoption of condensed integrated training pathways for both interventional radiology and vascular surgery have led to substantial increases in the proportion of female applicants and trainees in these fields. 

Interventional cardiology "remains the outlier, with a long length of training that may dissuade both women and men from further sub specialization in vascular intervention," Altin noted. The writing group said interventional cardiology should consider revising the traditional training paradigm.

As strategies to engage more women in interventional vascular specialties succeed, "attention needs to be focused on how to move talented women to top leadership positions, which will ultimately continue to encourage junior women to pursue the field," the writing group said.