Gender diversity is not just good for women; it’s good for anyone who wants results.”

Melinda A. Gates

Modern neurosurgery recently crossed the century threshold as a medical discipline. The profession has a rich history, and women have played critical roles throughout the development of the specialty. The role of women in neurosurgery began with Louise Eisenhardt, MD, who was at the side of Harvey Cushing, MD, through much of his career. Ruth K. Jakoby, MD became the first woman diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery in 1961. Later, Frances K. Conley, MD, achieved several ‘firsts’ as a woman in academic neurosurgery, culminating in a promotion to a full professorship at Stanford University in 1986.

These women have set examples for all of us by overcoming obstacles and biases based on their gender. As more women have entered this noble profession, the need for a forum to celebrate achievement and address issues specific to women became evident. Eventually, the Women in Neurosurgery Section (WINS) of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) was formed with a commitment to support professional growth and development and enhance and facilitate interaction among women neurosurgeons. Today, WINS strives to promote an environment supportive of personal values and individual diversity for women neurosurgeons in various career stages.

2020 marks the historic 30th anniversary of the founding of WINS and brings an exciting time to the WINS community and neurosurgery. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of WINS, Neurosurgery Blog will highlight the goals of the section — to educate, inspire and encourage women neurosurgeons to realize their professional and personal goals. WINS also serves women in neurosurgery by addressing the issues inherent to training, and maintaining a diverse and balanced workforce is the mission of this section.

The series will include the following contributions:

  • Deborah L. Benzil, MD, FACS, FAANS, will discuss the origins of WINS and how it shaped her career;
  • Sheri Dewan, MD, FAANS, and Angela M. Richardson, MD, PhD, will discuss using social media in addressing gender disparities;
  • Disep I. Ojukwu, MD, MBA, MPH, and Laura S. McGuire, MD, write about breaking barriers and the legacy of achievement of women in our profession;
  • Anahita Malvea and Alexandra Beaudry-Richard contrast the myths and truths of women in neurosurgery from the perspective of medical students; and
  • Martina Stippler, MD, FAANS, will discuss how forcing change leads to greater success.

We will give voice to women from across the spectrum of our profession, from students on the cusp of embarking on this tremendously rewarding personal and professional journey, to women who have dedicated most of the adult lives to advancing the art and science of the specialty. Neurosurgery is not alone in that when given a choice, we should choose and foster diversity, and the long and successful history of WINS is a testament to that. We invite our readers to participate actively and share their own stories of progress and breakthrough.

Editor’s note: We hope that you will share what you learn from our posts. We invite you to be part of the conversation on Twitter by following and using the hashtags #CelebratingWINSat30 and #WomenInNeurosurgery.

Alia Hdeib, MD, FAANS, FACS
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

 

 

Jennifer A. Sweet, MD, FAANS, FACS
Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, Ohio

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