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 19 June 2018

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Roy Pounder Why do women gastroenterologists avoid the Internet?
Roy Pounder, 29 August 2000

I have climbed onto the Personal View to respond to an email of complaint. Kim E. Barrett, Professor of Medicine at San Diego, USA sent me a nice message of congratulations about but, very appropriately, complained that we have no women members on any of our Editorial Boards, and only a few on our Global Faculty.

Let me explain the situation. We did invite three women to join an Editorial Board, and all refused. Almost all the invited men accepted.

We invited several hundred people to join the Global Academic Faculty - quite a few women accepted, but an equal number refused. About 200 men accepted, but about 20 refused.

So why do women appear to avoid joining this type of publishing venture?

My wife, a Professor of Hematology, says that women are afraid of technology (I would never have dared to make such a suggestion!). She says, with the experience of one, that women are frightened by the Internet. Don't worry: she is at this moment programming her Palm Pilot v.

Is it that women are more conscientious, and better time-managers? Do they only accept invitations that they know they can fulfil?

Join the debate! Click here to post your comments about this Personal View Speech.

Do women avoid joining 'clubs'? Do they avoid joining a male-dominated team?

I'm 56 years old, and only 1 in 20 medical students in my year were female. So there is now an inevitable deficiency of older female doctors. For many years, it seemed few women became a gastroenterologist or a hepatologist - let alone a 5-star endoscopist. But things have changed dramatically, and there are now many young females in our specialty.

What has done about this? On the practical side, we have commissioned a beautiful small evening bag for women, using the same silk material that will be used for the gents' ties. Indeed, the bags arrived ahead of the ties! Those women who initially refused my invitation can still change their mind. Finally, women who feel excluded should get in touch with me - there are lots of jobs that need to be completed. Please send me nominations from the 'new generation' of females in our specialty.

This article originally appeared on 29 August 2000.

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Dear Professor Pounder,
Firstly let me say that I think is a fantastic site which has obviously been well thought out (even if it was done by men!). As a specialist registrar currently involved in fulltime research, I find it particularly useful to keep up-todate. In response to your Personal View issue, I must say I was shocked to hear of how few women answered your call, but have you ever thought it may not be that women are afraid of technology, but unlike men, don't feel the need to tell the world how well they understand it! And while the men are playing on their computers the women are balancing lives as professional doctors and wives/partners/mothers etc., and quietly taking over the world! Be careful your days may be numbered!


Deirdre O'Donovan, 22 September 2000


I am a consultant female gastroenterologist working in Nairobi. I did my specialist training in the United Kingdom and returned to Kenya two years back, and it remains a very male dominated medical world out here. The only way I can access information on the latest gastroenterological developments - although I may not be able to afford all of them - is the Internet. I spend at least 3-4 hours on the net downloading or reading every week. Once downloaded, I keep the information on my hard disk and use it to keep my patients informed of current practice in the speciality. In the developing world, the Internet is the only instantly accessible and reliable source of the latest information.


Dr. Smita Devani, 04 September 2000


As the culprit who got this whole thing started, I think that Professor Pounder is to be commended not only for his prompt response to me, but also for airing this issue in a Personal View piece. But I must concur with the previous respondent that the vast majority of my female colleagues are not technophobes, and certainly there are no more female technophobes than male in our field (in my experience, that diagnosis is more likely to be age-related - but I have no wish to be ageist!).


Kim E. Barrett, 01 September 2000


I am a female specialist registrar, on the global faculty. I assure the world that the incompatibility of women and technology is a myth. I, and my fellow female colleague registrars are fully launched in the Internet culture. Give us a few years, and the 5* female endoscopists will be in place. Watch out!


Jo Puleston, 30 August 2000

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