By: Lila Dinner, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Medical Officer Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital
“Imagine a gender equal world.
A world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
A world where difference is valued and celebrated.
Together we can forge women’s equality.
Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.”
(International Women’s Day campaign 2022)
As I pen this blog post, it’s approaching International Women’s Day (IWD) 2022 which takes place on 8 March during what is also celebrated as Women’s History Month. The theme for IWD this year is #BreakThe Bias.
The elevating of women in orthopaedics through breaking biases is a great cause very close to my heart not least because orthopaedic surgery is one of the least diverse specialties in medicine. American stage/film dancer and actress, Ginger Rogers, famously said that women dancers had to be just as good as the men but ‘do everything the man does, only backwards and in high heels!’. Something I think many female pioneers in orthopaedics can relate to.
In 2022, women coming into medicine still do not see enough role models at any level, especially in surgery. We still disproportionately go into General Practice rather than hospital medicine, into non-surgical fields rather than surgery and into areas of surgery perceived to be more ‘feminine’ – of which orthopaedics is not yet a shining star.
Statistics shared by the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance and Women in Orthopaedics Worldwide show that ‘while approximately 50% of the global population is female, data collected from 63 countries for the 1st ever Women in Orthopaedics Symposium showed that, around the world, women comprise from 0% to 26% of orthopaedic surgeons – with the UK data showing that 6.9% of consultant Trauma and Orthopaedic surgeons were women in 2020’.
Women tend not to go into academic roles and if they do, they achieve Professorship less often than men. There are fewer senior women in management roles than you would expect considering it has been almost 25 years since women made up at least 50% of all medical school entrants.
Despite this, there are amazing women (and men!) working to #BreakTheBias in orthopaedics. It is a delight at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, where I am based, to see more and more female names on our list of incoming registrars and amongst our clinical leaders every year. Organisations such as Women In Orthopaedics Worldwide, the British Orthopaedic Association and the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association are doing great work to improve this even more. It’s also fantastic to regularly see female leaders represented as panellists at National Orthopaedic Alliance events, workshops and webinars.
All of us within the National Orthopaedic Alliance network and across the orthopaedics speciality have a really important role to help and inspire the next generation. Seeing a diverse range of women progress in the field and successfully navigate through medicine, exams and the unusual hours with the demands and constant pressure (and remain happy in their choices) is still in 2022 rarer than it should be.
So we should be really proud of the exceptional women who are achieving in the field. This International Women’s Day, throughout March and beyond, I challenge those of us who are excelling in orthopaedics to do our part to #BreakTheBias. Take the time to look around you to see who you can help up onto the next rung.
Of course, we can’t effectively work to continue to make progress without knowing and appreciating the trail blazers of the past and present. This video from Women In Orthopaedics Worldwide is a great testament of how far we have come and provides motivation to continue to work together to break gender bias in orthopaedics.
Lila joined the RNOH as Chief Medical Officer in October 2019, having been Consultant Anaesthetist at the Royal Free Hospital London for 18 years and most latterly, Divisional Director of Surgery since 2017.She has a strong background in education, dealing with doctors in difficulty, clinical governance and change management. She manages the RNOH Academic portfolio, is SRO for a number of major clinical digital projects, and manages a number of programmes to enhance clinical governance and digital safety. She took on the role of Deputy Chief Executive in December 2021 with a focus on growth and clinical efficiency. She took up the role of Regional Clinical Director for Anaesthetics for NHS E/I London Elective Surgery Recovery and Transformation Programme in April 2021 and holds a number of ICS leadership roles, as NCL Covid Oxygen and Equipment Resilience Lead and co-chair of the NCL Evidence Based Interventions Committee. She is an NHSE London Responsible Officer Appraiser. She continues to work as a Consultant Neuroanaesthetist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, UCLH part time.