Measures taken by the Society for Investigative Dermatology to improve gender inequality and the underrepresentation of minorities have been successful within leadership and its awards, according to researchers in Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
“Understanding diversity is essential for how we make progress in investigative dermatology to improve clinical therapies for skin diseases,” Valerie Horsley, PhD, associate professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and dermatology at Yale University, told Healio Dermatology. Horsley and colleagues reviewed initiatives the Society for Investigative Dermatology (SID) implemented to address inclusion and diversity.
To improve cognitive diversity, the group prioritized the inclusion of diverse perspectives in its annual meeting and membership through efforts to increase the participation of PhD trainees and faculty in its activities and events.
In 2010, the annual meeting hosted its first retreat for PhD trainees. Since, attendance at the meeting has increased for both PhDs and MD/PhDs in the past decade. The group also organized the Blank Forum, which invites speakers to present on diverse scientific topics that can impact cutaneous biology.
Additionally, SID increased gender diversity by improving the representation of women speakers at the meeting and as members. From 1998 to 2017, women membership increased from 20% to 40%, according to researchers.
An ad hoc committee on diversity and inclusion was created to educate membership on diversity and inclusion and improve the representation of women and underrepresented minorities in the annual meeting.
In 2019, the board established a 5-year diversity and inclusion committee to continue the work of the ad hoc committee, to foster diversity and inclusion across gender, race, sexual orientation and cognitive diversity in the programming of the annual meeting and in the membership.
To combat racial diversity, SID established Freinkel Diversity Scholars, a fellowship program to increase the profile of women and minorities who are members of SID. Up to two individuals will be selected each year for awards providing free registration at the annual meeting and a travel grant to attend different International Societies for Investigative Dermatology member meetings over the next 2 years.
Furthermore, SID utilizes partnerships to foster mentorship and training opportunities such as those with the Student National Medical Association. The upcoming Diversity Champion Workshop, for example, supports current and future underrepresented minority medical students and the American Academy of Dermatology.
“Dermatologists need to have an appreciation of how diversity can impact patient care and bring innovation to the development of clinical therapies for skin diseases,” Horsley said. “I am proud of the work that the Society of Investigative Dermatology is doing and looking forward to continuing this work.” – by Abigail Sutton
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.