Three global experts discuss their experiences as women in anaesthesia
On 8 March 2023, WFSA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEI) celebrated International Women’s Day by hosting their first webinar, ‘Women’s Experience in Anaesthesia: Reflections from the Operating Room.’
Speakers included celebrated leaders Dr Bertille Kélan Ki (Burkina Faso), Dr Jannicke Mellin-Olsen (Norway) and Prof Sheila Nainan Myatra (India). The Chair of the WFSA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Dr Carolina Haylock-Loor (Honduras), introduced and moderated the talk.
The webinar was split into two sections. In the first segment, each speaker was given 20 minutes to discuss key experiences from her anaesthesiology training and career. The second part was a 15 minute Q+A, in which the speakers answered questions from attendees.
In their discussions, all three women noted the impact of role models on their careers. Female representation in medical and high-level positions had been essential in inspiring them to pursue anaesthesiology and aim high.
The speakers stressed the need to improve female visibility in order to encourage more women into the field. It was emphasised that role models are particularly important in low-resource countries, as women often have to work harder due to the additional challenges they face.
A lack of visibility within faculty and within hospitals means we do not have women who are role models and are able to attract […] and support young colleagues who would want to start a career in anaesthesiology– Dr Bertille Kélan Ki
The difficulties of balancing a family with a career that demands travel, long days and irregular hours was also a common subject during the webinar, as were the benefits of men taking an equal amount of paternity leave.
In each of their discussions, the three speakers also highlighted ways to empower female colleagues.
During her presentation, Dr Mellin-Olsen outlined methods of counteracting suppression techniques in the workplace. She emphasised the benefits of demanding transparent decision processes, creating alliances and calling out jokes or rude remarks.
The speakers also encouraged and stressed the necessity of self-belief, determination and hard-work. The importance of trust and support from colleagues and family members was also reiterated throughout webinar.
If you support a woman at that crucial period when she needs your help, that woman will give you back ten-fold more– Prof Sheila Nainan Myatra
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