For several generations, women have stood as silent champions in ocular pathology, physiologic optics, research, and worldwide ophthalmology. While written records might not consistently applaud them, they've always shined from behind the curtains. In 1904, the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) welcomed its inaugural female member. Legend has it that her immediate response was, “About time!”
Pioneering women in ophthalmology have made their mark since the early 20th century. However, their notable presence has only been evident over the past three decades. Remarkably, a significant number have ascended to top leadership roles. Today, women constitute roughly 34% of the field. That steady rise is even more impressive when you consider that a little over 50 years ago, only 4% of ophthalmologists were women, according to AAO.
Over the past 30 years, I've had a distinct perspective of this transformative journey. This change was particularly evident during annual conferences. As we, the women, navigated in our tight pantyhose and high heels, standing side by side with our male counterparts in ophthalmology, a mere glimpse of another woman would often spark a silent exchange of mutual recognition and exhilaration. I didn't just observe this shift, I lived it. And it was empowering.
Gradually, women weren't merely assimilated into the field, we became its vital force. In fact, we are a force so strong, there are now industry groups and events dedicated entirely to women, such as Women in Ophthalmology, which hosts an annual summer symposium attended by hundreds of women.
When I think about the monumental impact women have had on eyecare in this sector, my heart swells with pride. Witnessing our continuous rise, both in influence and numbers, has been nothing short of inspiring. Our acknowledgment today is hard-earned, a result of relentless perseverance, humility, and drive. To my fellow women in ophthalmology, I salute you with deep respect and solidarity.
Attending Women in Ophthalmology's 2023 Summer Symposium?
The annual event offers high-quality content curated specifically for women's educational and professional interests. Nextech is proud to be an exhibitor. Stop by Booth T22 and learn about our eye care-specific software meets the needs of your practice and your patients.
Aug. 24-27 | JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort | Marco Island, Fla.