Cardiovascular societies give significantly fewer awards to women physicians and researchers

A study published this week in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) has found that over more than 20 years, seven major cardiovascular societies were more likely to distribute awards to men and white individuals compared to women and those who identify as Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Black.

“Women received significantly fewer awards than men in all societies, countries and award categories,” said Martha Gulati, MD, senior and corresponding author of the study, and director of Preventive Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “The same sentiment was true for minority groups, which suggests there are several factors at play, including implicit bias. This bias may be responsible for preventing underrepresented groups from ascending the academic ladder and receiving senior awards like lifetime achievement awards.”

Researchers reviewed honors given from 2000-2021 by seven cardiovascular societies including the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the American Society of Echocardiography, the Society of Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, the Heart Rhythm Society, the European Society of Cardiology, and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

In all, 173 awards recognized 3,044 awardees—of this group, 2,830 were unique. A vast majority of the awardees were white (75.2%). Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Black awardees represented 18.9%, 4.5%, and 1.4% of the total awardees, respectively.

For their gender analysis, researchers looked into 169 awards after excluding female-specific awards. These 169 awards were distributed to 2,995 recipients; 76.2% of awardees were men and 23.8% were women.

Researchers say that given the increased emphasis on redesigning cardiovascular healthcare delivery by incorporating the tenets of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), cardiovascular societies have a significant role as core influencers.

“Equitable award distribution can be a key strategy to celebrate women and diverse members of the cardiovascular workforce and promulgate DEI,” said Gulati, also associate director of the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center and associate director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center. “Recognition of their contributions is pivotal to enhancing their self-perception. In addition to boosting confidence, receiving an award can also catalyze their career trajectory.”