International Women's Day (IWD) 2017 falls on Wednesday 8th March. The theme for this year's event is #BeBoldForChange, encouraging all of us to step up and fight for increased gender inclusivity in the world around us. 
In December 2016, a worldwide twitter campaign using the hashtag #9PercentIsNotEnough was launched by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) to coincide with their IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards. The campaign was designed to raise awareness that women only make up 9% of the engineering and technology workforce. You may read this and assume that I am talking about the 1980s, 1990s or maybe the early 2000s but no - in 2016, only 9% of engineers were women .
In 2013, the International Organisation of Medical Physics (IOMP) carried out a study into women in medical physics across the globe. They received responses from 66 countries and identified that 28% of the global medical physics workforce is female . In Europe, 47% of Medical Physicists are female, 50% in the Middle East, 35% in Asia, 33% in Africa, 24% in Latin America and 21% in the USA (median values) .
|Acceptance testing a CT scanner last week|
These figures are encouraging, particularly when comparing the IOMP figures to the IET figures mentioned previously. Clearly our profession is doing something right. That being said, we still have a long way to go. If almost half of the profession (based on Europe) are female, then why are only 30% of the IPEM Trustees women? Why am I the only female IPEM Vice President (there are 6!)? Why has there only been 1 female past president of IPEM? I have my own answers to these questions but I will leave them open...
Inevitably someone reading this blog will start muttering about an 'old boys' club so I thought I would share some of the things IPEM is doing and involved with to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in medical physics & clinical engineering. Why not head over to the IPEM website to read our Equality Policy Statement? We have our very own Trustee level Diversity Lead, Kimberley Saint, who is beavering away (watch this space!). Our July Scope issue will have an equality and diversity focus (look out for my article!) and the theme for the 5th International Day of Medical Physics (7th November 2017) is women in medical physics. IPEM actively encourages women to apply for Fellowship membership status - remember you don't have to be invited to be a Fellow! There are plenty of other exciting projects going on - visit the IPEM website to find out more.
So, how are you going to #BeBoldForChange this International Women's Day? Maybe you could apply for Fellowship or encourage one of your colleagues to. There are vacancies for Vice President roles coming up in April 2017, get your application in - trust me you get more out of it than you put in. Get on twitter and share a picture of you doing something awesome (remember to tweet @ipemnews so we can see you!). Get involved in an outreach event. Perhaps you could do unconscious bias training, you may even surprise yourself (I did!). Read about female pioneers of our profession, including Edith Stoney (F. Duck, Scope, Dec 2013) and remember, we truly are "standing on the shoulders of giants" (Isaac Newton).
Find out more about IWD at www.internationalwomensday.com
My next blog will be all about my visit to the Houses of Parliament on 15th March 2017 to represent IPEM and CaSE at Voice of the Future 2017!
: www.internationalwomensday.com; accessed 06/03/2017
: www.theiet.org; accessed 06/03/2017
: Tsapaki V., Rehani M. M. ; Medical Physics International Journal, Vol 3, No. 1, 2015 ; Initial Results on the Number of Female Medical Physicists based on an International Organization for Medical Physics (IOMP) survey