The Women's Leadership Gap in Diabetes: A Call for Equity and Excellence

Diabetes Care. 2021 Jun 15:dci210015. doi: 10.2337/dci21-0015. Online ahead of print.


OBJECTIVE: Women are broadly underrepresented in scientific leadership positions and their accomplishments are not provided equal recognition compared with those of men, but the imbalance in the field of diabetes is unknown. Hence, we analyzed multiple aspects of historical and present-day female representation in the diabetes field.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: We quantified gender representation at annual American Diabetes Association (ADA) meetings; editorial board service positions for ADA and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) journals; principal investigators for ADA, JDRF, and National Institutes of Health National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases P30 grant funding; and ADA, JDRF, and EASD award recipients.

RESULTS: There are many women in the field of diabetes: registration for the ADA Scientific Sessions has been 43% female since 2016, and for over five decades, women made up 83% of ADA Presidents of Health Care and Education. Yet, only 9% of ADA Presidents of Medicine and Science have been women. Women were well represented on editorial boards for journals focused on diabetes education (Diabetes Spectrum, 89% female) and primary care (Clinical Diabetes, 49% female) but not for the more academically targeted Diabetes Care (34% female), Diabetes (21% female), and Diabetologia (30% female). Only one-third of ADA Pathway to Stop Diabetes and JDRF grants have been awarded to women, and females only lead 2 of 18 (11%) of the P30-supported Diabetes Research Centers. Finally, only 2-12% of major ADA, JDRF, and EASD awards were given to women, without significant change over time.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite increasing recognition of gender imbalance in research and medicine, many disparities in the field of diabetes persist. We call for decreasing barriers for advancement of female investigators and creating environments that promote their retention and equitable recognition for their contributions to the field.

PMID:34131045 | DOI:10.2337/dci21-0015