A New Year, A New Beginning
The freshly minted Commission for Women and Diversity turns the spotlight on one of our specialty's most important topics.
A new member will soon join the ACR Board of Chancellors. The ACR bylaws permit the board from time to time to create or eliminate a commission, committee, or task force "to aid the Board of Chancellors in carrying on specific activities of the College."
In accordance with that provision, the Board of Chancellors has approved my request to create the Commission for Women and Diversity.
The commission's story began when I received a request from the American Association for Women Radiologists (AAWR) for the ACR to provide association management services for the organization. The AAWR fills an important need in the field of radiology, addressing issues related to women in our specialty. The leadership of AAWR also suggested that the ACR create a new commission to address the unique needs of various groups, including women, within radiology. My reaction to this suggestion was very positive, and after some thought and discussion with other ACR leaders, I decided to proceed.
In consultation with the legal department and other staff at the College, we came up with a structure for the commission, which will have significant input from AAWR. We hope this new commission will have a positive impact on women in radiology and on women in general.
In addition to women, other groups face challenges, both in our specialty and in the wider professional environment. I felt that it was critical to address issues facing these other groups as well. So I chose the name the Commission for Women and Diversity. Initially, I plan to create two committees under the umbrella of the commission: the Committee for Women and the Committee for General Diversity. The latter will explore issues and solutions related to diversity in medical school, in training programs, and in radiology. Issues might include age, ethnicity, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, geographic background, race, religion, socioeconomic background, and veteran status.
All this begs the question, do we need another commission? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Look around. Take a look at the ACR Council, the Council Steering Committee, the BOC, the ACR officers — and while you're at it, look at your group practice or your academic department. You'll see no shortage of bright, energetic, enthusiastic people, but chances are the groups are not very diverse. Of course, this is not limited to diagnostic radiology, radiation oncology, or medical physics; this is true of many workplaces and organizations inside and outside of medicine. Despite positive changes, like Condoleezza Rice's membership in the famed Augusta National Golf Club, there is still tremendous work to be done.
The BOC is a working board, and its needs are complex and its actions far-reaching. One might argue that women and diversity fall under the Commission on Human Resources. However, the HR commission is set up to focus more on issues like supply and demand and physician extenders, rather than on the varied background of the radiologists who make up our specialty. Both commissions fill important and valid needs of our membership and will work together as needed. For more on the commission, turn to page 21.
By Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, Chair