Women get kidney and bladder cancers, kidney stones, and need kidney transplants, just like men, Karen Boyle, MD, a female urologist from Baltimore, told me today. And we've got our special urologic concerns that merit the same attention as men's. However, the field has historically centered around that walnut-shaped gland, the prostate. That's an area that some fine women urology researchers have specialized in too, just as men have in female urology and ob/gyn.
It is no secret that I have been rooting for more women getting into urology since I first attended meetings of the American Urological Association in the 1990s. It is certainly impressive that the American Urological Association (AUA) now has 909 female members--although put into context--that is still only about 5.6% of the total membership.
I suspect that the figure of 909 members includes many women outside of the United States because the AUA is a global organization.
There has been a dearth of research on the status of women in urology, but a 2005 review revealed that as of 2003, women accounted for 1% of leaders in academic urology. Low figures mean that women may not find mentors to help them feel comfortable in the field or advance within it.
What do you think of these numbers and what can be done? Do you know of outstanding women urologists who are contributing to the field? I would very much like to see more up-to-date data and hear of initiatives to bring about change.
Lightner DJ, Terris MK, Tsao AK, Naughton CK, Lohse CM.Status of women in urology: based on a report to the Society of University Urologists. J Urol,/ 2005; 173(3): 560-3.