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Oncology, 70% of doctors are women. But the vertices remain men
THE Faculty of Medicine see a clear majority of women among members. And Oncology is no exception. However, women still struggle to reach the places of command, as he explains Rossana Berardi, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of aberdeen and Director of the Oncology Clinic united Hospitals of Ancona.
How are the oncologhe in senior positions? "70% of oncologists are women, only 30% by men. But, by analyzing the positions of the vertex, the percentages are reversed: a recent survey has highlighted that the roles of general management, i.e. the directors of the structure, are covered by women only in 15% of cases. We must ask why it remains this difference in leadership, which continues to be the exclusive of men. In part, the cause can be attributed to the “gender gap” i.e. the difference in the allocation of roles between men and women which leads to discriminate the latter, on the other hand, the “confidence gap”, namely the so-called syndrome of Hermione. Last year, the New York Times, Lisa Damour addressed the issue of why, often, we are the winning school and losing on the job. The psychologist, between the lines of that article, showed that it is less likely that a lack of competence to be an obstacle than the lack of trust. Often the woman has little confidence in herself and does not emerge for her insecurities, sometimes due to an excess of perfectionism or the inability to recognise one's own skills. From here the necessity of carrying out training activities. Even the reports at scientific conferences reflect these differences, because the programs are made by men for men. The speakers are always in the lower number. In addition, a recent scientific publication in a major journal has shown that the funding, both national and international, are assigned to the researchers are lower than those assigned to their male colleagues. This is an additional obstacle to overcome".
it is therefore a cultural problem? "On the one hand, “gender gap” and “confidence gap” directly affect women. On the other hand, men tend to regard with concern the rise of women in career. In addition, there is often in women the ability to get help. You are responsible for a good part of domestic work (the care of the children and of the parents and sometimes the elderly), without asking for any support, by subtracting so much energy to the profession. And then we need to learn how to make a network, to create the lobby in the positive direction, a characteristic that is predominantly male. But we are learning and Women for Oncology is the witness. In recent years, we have seen women at the top of scientific societies, such as ESMO, ASCO (American Society of Clinical Oncology) and AIOM (Italian Association of Medical Oncology), where something is changing. Only the professionalism and the merit must guide the choice of who is at the summit. But the network also passes through associations and patients. In the Marche we have created with my colleague, Renato Bisonni, Director of the Oncology Firm, a unique initiative: the Marcangola, which is the forum of the voluntary associations which operate in the field of oncology marches in which it emerges, a bully, the desire to make the team."
She is one of the founders and vice-president of Women for Oncology Italy. What are the objectives of the association? "Women for Oncology Italy is a network of specialists in Italian oncology was born as a spin-off of the European Society for Medical Oncology and is a network to support oncologhe Italian. We are a group born within ESMO, which has created a spin-off similar also in other european Countries. The project aims to establish “quotas”. We want to enhance the professionals working in the field of oncology, promoting initiatives of professional training, updating and interdisciplinary dialogue. Our objective is to give co-workers a consciousness stronger than your own professional value and role, both in the wards of hospitals and in research, in order to transmit it to the outside, i.e. citizens, Institutions, patients and the media. That is why it is important to strengthen the concept and practice of professional network. The initiative was established and launched by nine oncologhe Italian, each in its context, constitute the excellence of our Country in this sector and that have already distinct to the important results achieved. Need a 'critical mass' in order to affirm the concept of women's leadership in oncology".
What efforts have you made so far? "We are mainly active on two fronts: training and dissemination in a scientific context. The training takes place through the pathways of coaching and management for the acquisition of the tools of leadership, in close cooperation with authoritative institutions such as SDA Bocconi in Milan. With regard to the scientific update, every year, we organize the conference “Post-ESMO”, to provide everyone with the opportunity to be informed about news emerged from the european Congress of medical oncology. In addition, we promote the survey at national level on the condition of the oncologhe and on the critical issues they face".
Need more courage or more determination? "Serving the dream. The motto of my clinic is a phrase of Pascal: 'To build the future we must first dream it'. And along with the dream, the heart. It is not enough to be technically trained and offer the best treatment, which cannot be waived: it is necessary to do it, taking care to 360 degrees of the patients and their families, and by clearly identifying our goals."
The health system is going through a very difficult time for the emergency coronavirus. The cancer patients can continue the treatment in this period? "In this health emergency due to the Covid-19 cancer patients are among the most fragile, the mortality is equal to 3.4% in the chinese population, 5% in Italy, but reached nearly 8% in patients fragile, in particular cancer. For this, we have immediately begun a campaign social to encourage citizens to stay home in a secure environment, and to take all the necessary precautions. The sick people affected by cancer should postpone the performance of deferred and non-urgent. Already from the beginning of the epidemic, we follow this line in the structure that I currently manage. And it is precazioni adopted by the other co-workers of Women for Oncology Italy".

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