Women Leadership in Academic Stroke Research and Clinical Trials

As the day came to a close on the day before the official start of ESOC 2019, the 2nd ESO-WISE Stroke Leadership Workshop took place. With over 50 participants and speakers from both Europe and North America the discussion was flowing. It was a great workshop, focusing on solutions, rather than challenges!

The Chair of WISE, Christine Kremer, welcomed us with a strong message that we still need this kind of workshops. Cheryl Bushnell continued by asserting that there are differences in stroke between women and men, and that it is important to address sex as a biological variable (SABV). Women are both underrepresented in clinical trials and in clinical trial leadership. Comments from the audiences suggested that the underrepresentation is likely caused by age limits of trials, and also by the way we invite women to include in trials. Pooja Khatri, one of very few women clinical trialists, reflected on her own career, giving general career advice and stating what is important to succeed. Charlotte Cordonnier spoke about glass ceiling effects, the importance of role models and visibility.

Andrew Demchuk, gave an overview of GAINS network, and how the GAINS network works on supporting women trialists. He also stressed the importance of mentors, and gave insights on dysfunctional and bad mentor-mentee relationships and the role of menders who can help mend these types of relationships. This was followed by Peter Kelly, the ESO Trials Alliance Chair talking about the need for very specific action points to guide funders, government and organisations on the topic. Examples being extending grant periods through parental leave, and introducing quotas for a period. We heard from Natalia Sana Rost presenting the importance of women on editorial boards, and highlights from the recent Stroke paper “Crucial Role of Women’s Leadership in Academic Stroke Medicine”. Bo Norrving explained how the European Stroke Journal has actively worked to balance the editorial board, and that the main contribution apart from having an active part in inviting reviewers and editorial board members, is to published statement and action papers on the topic.

Hanne Christensen concluded the workshop with 3 quotes of the day:

Natalia Sana Rost: “we should not change women, we should change the process”
Joanna Wardlaw:  “we need to pick out women and give opportunities”
Bo Norrving: ”we need an overarching plan to work on gender balance in ESO….”

We already look forward to next year!