Get involved to support women in the specialty

August 2019 – Vol. 38, No. 7


Ellen M. Friedman, MD, to keynote the 2019 WIO General Assembly

Lauren S. Buck, MD, Resident,
University of Mississippi Medical Center

This past Memorial Day weekend, the other members of our department at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, attended the Gulf States Region Otolaryngology Conference in Pointe Clear, AL. Near the end of the first day, one of my attendings turned to me and said, “There are so many women speakers here. This is great!” And she was right—half of the conference speakers were women, including the keynote speaker, Stacey T. Gray, MD.

Having attended a medical school with a program featuring the rare female chair in otolaryngology, I early on benefited from strong female mentors. Not realizing just how lucky I was to have this experience (with less than five percent of chairs being female), I now am part of a residency program where the number of women residents and faculty is about equal to men. I am thankful for the diversity within the programs I have been a part of and now understand how important representation is in our field. Although more women than men are now enrolling in medical schools, only one-third of applicants applying to otolaryngology are women, and further disparity is present regarding academic positions. While we have come a long way in our specialty, we need to continue supporting initiatives aimed at inclusivity and expanding diversity in the future.

Help us celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the WIO Section of the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. Now is the time to get involved, as WIO is working on many projects to assist women in our specialty. Mark your calendar to attend the WIO General Assembly, September 16, at 11:30 am on Monday, where Ellen M. Friedman, MD, will be the keynote speaker.

WIO members should also consider engaging with Sections and making a difference on important initiatives to help women in the specialty. Consider running for a leadership position or, like I did, apply for one of the committees when the cycle opens in November. Introduce yourself to the WIO leaders and ask how you can help during the AAO-HNSF 2019 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience. More ways to get engaged can be found by visiting

It has been a great experience serving on the Communications Committee for the WIO Section as a resident, and I encourage others to get involved early. Email or contact your local WIO member.