Sigrid V. Carlsson, MD, PhD, MPH, Faina Shtern, MD, and Wendy L. Poage, MHA, presented “Panel on Women in Urology ” during the 29th Annual International Prostate Cancer Update on January 26, 2019 in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

How to cite: Carlsson, Sigrid V., Shtern, Faina, Poage, Wendy L., Panel on Women in Urology” January 26, 2019. Accessed Jul 2020.

Panel on Women in Urology – Summary:

Sigrid V. Carlsson, MD, PhD, MPH, Faina Shtern, MD, and Wendy L. Poage, MHA, three leaders in the urologic field, each with a unique background, discuss the challenges faced and successes accomplished for women working in urology and medicine as a whole. They also share advice for younger women aspiring to enter these fields.

Why Would a Woman Choose to Be a Urologist?

According to data from 2017, only 8.8% of practicing urologists in the United States are women. Most of these urologists are under the age of 45, a testament to the progressive cultural shifts of recent history. While it is arguable that the urologic community should make efforts to drive the ratio of women in urology closer to 50%, an important, immediate matter is to put an end to sentiments driving the common questions asked of women urologists:

“Why did you choose to become a urologist? Why are you interested in older men’s prostate health?”

The Panelists

This panel discussion explores women leaders in urology, as well as in the broader field of genitourinary oncology. These ‘giantesses’ from the past and present have helped to amplify women’s voices in medical fields in which they have relatively little representation.

Wendy L. Poage, MHA, the panel moderator, is the President of the Prostate Conditions Education Council, as well as a leader in many  global patient advocacy non-profits. Joining her is Sigrid V. Carlsson, MD, PhD, MPH, who is Assistant Attending Epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) as well as having past experience working in medicine in Sweden. Also on the panel is Faina Shtern, MD, President and CEO of AdMeTech, who came to the United States as a refugee from the then-Soviet Union after completing her medical degree at Chernovets Medical School.

Role Models for Women in Urology

Dr. Carlsson discusses differences in the feasibility for women to thrive in medical fields between Sweden and the United States. She highlights the work of role models for women in medicine, such as Maria Frånlund, MD, PhD, the first female Chief of Urology at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. Dr. Carlsson also shares insights from powerful women in medicine from MSKCC.

Dr. Shtern uses the example of Harvard Medical School (HMS) and medical ‘giantess’ Eleanor Shore, MD, Dean for Faculty Affairs at HMS, to serve as a microcosm for women in science everywhere. In 1847, Harvard rejected the first recorded women applicants to the program. This pattern of rejection continued until the program accepted 8 women, one of whom was Dr. Shore. Due to the struggles and merits of women at HMS over the years, women continued to develop a presence at the school. Even so, by 1988, women only represented 4% of HMS senior faculty. Dr. Shore eventually created a mentorship for diversity and gender equality in career development at HMS. Dr. Shtern discusses her experiences during her time in this mentorship program and how it has shaped her life and career.

Dr. Carlsson and Dr. Shtern also shared their advice for women entering urology or medicine. Overall, they feel optimistic for women entering this field. As Dr. Carlsson notes, “You can do whatever you set your mind to… Be the CEO that your mom always wanted you to marry.”  

About the International Prostate Cancer Update

The International Prostate Cancer Update (IPCU) is an annual, multi-day CME conference focused on prostate cancer treatment updates. The conference’s faculty consists of international experts, and the event caters to urologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and other healthcare professionals. Topics encompass prostate cancer management, from diagnosis to treating advanced and metastatic disease. Dr. Carlsson, Dr. Shtern, and Wendy Poage presented this lecture during the 29th IPCU in 2019. Please visit this page in order to learn more about future IPCU meetings.