Supporting Women in Lymphoma – “You can’t be what you can’t see”*

Despite how far society has advanced towards equal rights for women, women are still under-represented in medical leadership roles.  Prof Judith Trotman highlighted this concern in 2017, when she noted that female representation accounted for 42 per cent of the Haematology Society of Australia and New Zealand membership, yet only 7 per cent of all scientific advisory committee members of the ALLG, (Australasian Leukaemia Lymphoma Group) between 2012 – 2017.  However, it was in 2019 when noting a panel of experts comprising of six men and no women at the International Conference for Malignant Lymphoma, that Judith knew she needed to act and garner support to change the statistics surrounding the lack of representation and visibility of women in lymphoma leadership.

Women in Lymphoma (WiL) was created with the mission to support and advocate for greater leadership for women in lymphoma globally. The group has three aims:

  1. Inspire and empower WiL to greater leadership in lymphoma care, research and teaching;
  2. Identify and follow the metrics of such engagement; and
  3. Be a collective voice to challenge and change inequity in lymphoma leadership on behalf of WiL, and all lymphoma clinicians, researchers and patients.

WiL is comprised of a growing international network of 130 female professional peers engaged in the treatment and research of lymphoma.  WiL members have a breadth of research skills and capacity across basic and translational research, clinical trials, implementation science and patient-clinician research collaborations. The group currently collaborate on a free WiLing Wednesday series to discuss cases, management of patients, and clinical trials.  These sessions are incredibly supportive and collaborative.  The passion WiL Members have for their profession and their desire to make a difference to blood cancer patients’ lives is clear.  The WiL International Steering Committee is Chaired by Prof Judith Trotman with Assoc Prof Carla Casulo from Rochester, USA as the Secretary. A/Prof Eliza Hawkes from Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research and Wellness Centre at Austin Health and Eastern Health  is also on the Steering Committee.

Snowdome is incredibly proud to support the WiL initiative.  Research indicates that teams that are diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity and social background produce better health science, are more highly cited, generate a broader range of ideas and innovations and better represent society.  All of this has to be good for blood cancer research and the management of patients.  We believe this collaboration will help accelerate next-generation treatments for Australian blood cancer patients.

* Marian Wright Edelman from the documentary Miss Representation