Quality at the American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting: Gender Balance Among Invited Speakers and Associations with Panel Success


      The American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting is the most prominent international conference in radiation oncology. It represents one of the greatest time efforts for ASTRO volunteers, and the quality of the annual meeting is a high priority. Measures of diversity have been linked with quality of academic efforts. We conducted a study of gender diversity of the ASTRO invited speakers, focusing on speaker and panel characteristics, and associations of these characteristics with measures of audience satisfaction.

      Methods and Materials

      We created a database of all invited speakers (n = 1499 cumulative speaking positions, n = 725 individual speakers) and panels (n = 381) in the ASTRO annual meetings from 2012 to 2016. Speaker characteristics were acquired using publically available online search tools (including Scopus for citation metrics). SAS software was used for statistical analysis.


      Of the 725 individual speakers, 27% were women. Men had higher median Hirsch index (H-index) (27 vs 20, P < .001), M-index (1.36 vs 1.11, P < .001), earlier first publication (1994 vs 1997), professorship (57% vs 40%, P < .001), chair status (25% vs 14%, P < .001) and fellow designations/distinctions (ie, FASTRO/FACR/FAAPM) (12% vs 9.5%, P < .17). Median panel gender distribution was 25% female, and greatest female representation was in breast, gynecology, and pediatrics. On multivariable analysis, panel characteristics associated with individual measures of audience satisfaction included single discipline presentations (metric: overall evaluation score), panels not proposed or endorsed by committee (metric: room count), higher H-index (metric: room count) and M-index (metric: request for session repeat), and panels with gender composition >50% female (metric: request for session repeat). Female conveners were associated with greater panel gender diversity.


      Given observations that women constitute a minority of invited speakers and that greater female representation correlates with a key panel success metric, efforts to ensure greater diversity of those included in AM speaking invitations merit serious attention.
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