The European Endometriosis League has promoted an ‘Endometriosis Masterclass’ led by seven male experts on endometriosis and no women.
A notice about the masterclass, designed for medical professionals in gynaecology, was posted to social media this week with images of the male experts booked into the session, noting the “exceptional international faculty”.
It was soon picked up by multiple users on Twitter, who commented on the post asking why no effort had been made to include any female physicians as experts in the masterclass.
Professor Pragya Agarwal wrote: “Why no women on faculty for an endometriosis masterclass?”
“Delighted you’re all getting together for an endometriosis masterclass and am sure you all have the requisite scientific expertise to discuss it, but how on earth did any of you think it was OK not to include a single woman on this panel? It’s 2022, do better,” Signe Johansen wrote.
According to the European Endometriosis League, the aim of the masterclass (scheduled for November 2022) is to provide education and training in diagnosis and therapy of endometriosis for professionals in gynaecology, as well as to create a network of specialists on endometriosis, and to connect skills of minimally invasive surgery with endometriosis skills.
A lack of diversity of speakers at medical conferences is an issue that has plagued the profession for years, with female doctors and people of colour often underrepresented.
As Melina Kibbe and Muneera Kapadia noted in 2020, women being excluded from panels in medicine can have detrimental effects. It can limit the perspectives, experiences and skills offered to those in attendance at conferences and can limit the professional opportunities given to women in the medical and academic fields.
It also perpetuates the gender gap in healthcare and medical research, that has too often seen women’s health issues sidelined.
Not-for-profit Women in Global Health retweeted the post about the masterclass, writing: “The #manel (all-male panel) of the week! An #endometriosis masterclass without women? We will say it again: NOTHING about us without us!”
In 2020, a group of female doctors in Australia and New Zealand came together to form Women Speakers in Healthcare Australia and New Zealand, calling for an end of ‘manels’ at medical conferences and creating a database of female experts.
Check out Women’s Agenda’s recent special on endometriosis on the Women’s Health Project (it featured female experts).