Source:

Jones G, et al. Abstract 11009. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting (virtual meeting); June 4-8, 2021.

Disclosures: Jones reports no relevant disclosures.
July 23, 2021
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Oncology resident emphasizes ‘demonstrable, active’ allyship with women

Source:

Jones G, et al. Abstract 11009. Presented at: ASCO Annual Meeting (virtual meeting); June 4-8, 2021.

Disclosures: Jones reports no relevant disclosures.
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Gavin Jones, MD, was raised to “be the change” he wished to see in the world.

It’s not surprising, then, that in his residency training in the department of radiology at University of Kentucky, Jones has found ways to bring about change for women, both as patients and colleagues.

Quote from Gavin Jones, MD

“I knew I needed to do more than merely pay lip service to the empowerment of women in oncology,” he said in the latest installment of Women in Oncology’s “Oncology Allies,” a HeforShe effort. “He-for-She allyship, at its core, should be demonstrable and active. This has impelled much of the ongoing research into the roles gender and ethnicity play in cancer medicine.”

A profound impact

As he progressed through his residency, Jones noticed the ways in which the concerns of women were not being addressed.

His interest in breast cancer led to the observation that this disease is often accompanied by a deeply personal sense of loss.

“All cancers have unique epidemiology, patient populations and risk factors,” he said. “Breast cancer is somewhat unique in that its primary surgical treatment often carries with it a profound psychological impact — for many women, the breast is integral to their sense of personal identity in a way that other anatomical cancer sites are not.”

Jones said for these women, the prioritization of empirical outcome measures leaves out an essential component of recovery and well-being.

“Our typical fixation on ‘hard outcomes’ in breast cancer — such as locoregional recurrence and OS — belie these important psychosocial dimensions of the patient experience,” he said. “The role of breast reconstruction and fertility preservation in patients with breast cancer is something I hope to engage in more as I proceed through my career in radiation oncology.”

‘A precarious balance’

Jones also champions women in oncology through his research into gender and racial disparities in oncology academic leadership.

For instance, he and colleagues presented research at this year’s ASCO Annual Meeting showing that female and Black oncologists are underrepresented in academic oncology leadership.

“Unfortunately, many sexist double standards and preconceptions are still ingrained in the field of medicine,” Jones told Healio. “Female physicians face additional bias in terms of promotion to, and recognition of, their professional medical roles compared with their male counterparts — a pattern that extends even to formal introductions as ‘doctor’ at national conferences, and in citational trends within the primary literature.”

Competing demands on female oncologists’ time, as well as lack of scheduling accommodations offered by workplaces, also can make it difficult for women to move up the ranks of academic oncology, Jones said.

Moreover, women oncologists may be expected to demonstrate “nurturing” behavior while also projecting authority and confidence.

“Women are often expected to straddle dual roles in the workplace, striking a precarious balance between seeming both ‘empathetic and caring’ yet simultaneously ‘strong and assertive,’” Jones said. “For working mothers, this burden extends even further, to the expectation to fulfill the duties of motherhood without seeming less dedicated or engaged with physicianhood.”

Jones said he was encouraged to undertake the study by his mentor, Mudit Chowdhary, MD, during a time of increased emphasis on gender disparities in academic oncology. This not only inspired the study but also an ongoing commitment to making change in any way he could.

“To be clear, a crucial part of female advocacy involves fostering a culture of inclusion and respect in the workplace at an individual level,” he said. “But there were — indeed are — additional things I thought I could do to help bring these disparities to a more public light.”

For more information:

Gavin P. Jones, MD, can be reached at gavin.jones@uky.edu.