ESMO Women for Oncology Forum Focuses on Power Sharing to Foster Gender Equality

San Francisco, CA USA ( -- The Women for Oncology (W4O) Forum at ESMO 2018, Sharing the Power, on Friday 19 October1 will focus on power sharing between women and men working as a way of fostering gender equality in the oncology workforce. Through keynote presentations, testimonies from national networks, and small group discussions, the Forum will explore opportunities for creating a more diverse and inclusive culture that values differences and collaboration.

“We need to overcome conditioned beliefs about the roles of women and men in the oncology workforce and recognize the valuable progress we can make in scientific innovation and patient care if we embrace our differences and combine our strengths and expertise,” said Professor Solange Peters, Chair of the ESMO Women for Oncology Committee, ESMO 2018 Scientific Chair and President-Elect of ESMO.

Since its introduction in 2013, the W4O Forum has become an annual highlight in the ESMO Congress programme. This year’s event has been enhanced to encourage greater interaction and discussion among participants. The W4O Committee recognizes that gender equality cannot be achieved by women alone and hopes to encourage input on power-sharing opportunities from all ESMO delegates.

“Through the W4O initiative, ESMO maintains a strong commitment to monitoring and raising awareness about the gender imbalance in leadership positions in oncology, and supports training and career development opportunities for women oncologists in order to promote female leadership in oncology,” explained Peters.
Results will be presented at the Forum from a study, started earlier this year, to monitor and gather data about the representation of women in leadership positions in oncology.

This project builds on evidence from ESMO research, recently published in ESMO Open,2,3 which identified a clear gender gap in oncology, with female oncologists under-represented in leadership roles in national and international oncology societies as well as in clinical teams caring for patients. Less than half of female cancer specialists who answered the survey had a leadership role compared to two-thirds of their male colleagues. Only one in four board members of international oncology societies were female and just one in 10 of these societies had a female president.

“These findings are particularly disappointing in view of the fact that at least a third of oncologists are women, rising to nearly 50% amongst younger doctors.4-7 We need new initiatives, such as those already started by ESMO, and more support for flexible working and a better work-life balance,” said Dr. Susana Banerjee, Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, UK, lead author of one of the papers.

1. At the ESMO 2018 Congress, Sharing the power - ESMO Women for Oncology Forum, Friday, 19 October (13.30 – 15.30 Room: 24 – Hall B4)
2. Banerjee S, Dafni U, Allen T et al. Gender-related challenges facing oncologists: the results of the ESMO Women for Oncology Committee survey. ESMO Open 2018; DOI: 10.1136/esmoopen-2018 000422 
3. Hofstädter-Thalmann E, Dafni U, Allen T et al. A report on the status of women occupying leadership roles in oncology. ESMO Open 2018; DOI: 10.1136/esmoopen-2018-000423
4. American Society of Clinical Oncology. The state of cancer care in America, 2017: A report by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Journal of Oncology Practice 2017; 13: e353-e377
5. de AzambujaE, Ameye L, Paesmans M et al. The landscape of medical oncology in Europe by 2020. Ann Oncol. 2014;25(2):525-8.
6. European Society for Medical Oncology. Data gathered from ESMO membership database
7. ASCO kicks off strategic planning to support women in oncology, January 2018

Further Related Content:
Complete ESMO 2018 Conference Coverage

Newsletter subscription

Free Daily and Weekly newsletters offered by content of interest

The fields of GU Oncology and Urology are rapidly advancing. Sign up today for articles, videos, conference highlights and abstracts from peer-review publications by disease and condition delivered to your inbox and read on the go.