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ACC Women in Cardiology: Power Across Networks

Just over 10 years ago, the American College of Cardiology Women in Cardiology (ACC WIC) Section sprang from a need for women in cardiology to advance their own interests.  ACC WIC’s mission is to cultivate professional development, mentoring and networking programs for ACC members, and endeavors to attract women in medicine to careers in cardiology by recommending changes to improve training programs and by promoting effective, efficient and diverse practice opportunities.

Recent years have produced a growing number of women in leadership positions across cardiovascular professional organizations. Dr. Athena Poppas is the incoming President of the ACC, following closely on the heels of Dr. Minnow Walsh. Dr. Vera Rigolin is the Immediate Past-President of the American Society of Echocardiography, as is Dr. Cathy Kells for the Canadian Cardiovascular Society. Dr. Barbara Casadei is the current President of European Society of Cardiology, and Dr. Karen Sliwa of the World Heart Federation. While this progress should be celebrated, women in cardiology continue to fall woefully behind their male counterparts in almost all respects; *

  • Women are often introduced by their first names in professional settings instead of by their title.
  • Women fail to be visible on panels and as speakers at scientific conferences.
  • Women are less likely than men to be full professors.
  • Women are paid $2.5M less than their male counterparts across the course of their careers.
  • Women are more likely than men to experience sexual harassment and discrimination.
  • Women are consistently discouraged from entering cardiology in the first place and are told it is a difficult specialty for those who wish to start a family.

ACC WIC aims to break the negative perceptions around women in cardiology, and to enact the changes needed to improve the pipeline of women entering cardiology and the conditions in which they practice. ACC WIC facilitates these goals through a series of state and global Chapters which aim to empower women in cardiology to form their own professional networks through which they can find support and advancement opportunities.

Women cardiologists can access resources via the ACC WIC website with which to launch their own local ACC WIC events. The site also features webinars, videos and blog posts related to women in cardiology. Topics of local Chapter and national ACC WIC events focus on issues such as promotion and tenure, managing finances, contract negotiation, conflict management and reduction of burnout.  ACC WIC also hosts an annual Leadership Conference in Washington, DC to educate and support its women members.

One of ACC WIC’s best tools for communication and networking has been Twitter. The official Twitter hashtag of the Section is #ACCWIC, where Section members enjoy an active stream of communication from all corners of the world. Members tag each other in relevant articles, promote regional meetings, and welcome women in medical school to #ChooseCardiology, another popular hashtag adopted by the members. One of the latest ACC WIC Twitter initiatives is a virtual book club. Use the hashtag #WICBOOK to chime-in on quarterly reads with fellow section members.

The power of women supporting each other through networks is proven, and there is much to be gained from participating in groups such as ACC WIC, Women as One and all of the other professional efforts looking to improve the recruitment, mentorship and promotion of women in cardiology. We must all work together to change the culture of cardiology to achieve equity, inclusion and diversity.

*Visit The Source for references.