A Survey Study of Female Radiation Oncology Residents’ Experiences to Inform Change

Virginia W. Osborn, Kaleigh Doke, Kent A. Griffith, Rochelle Jones, Anna Lee, Genevieve Maquilan, Adrianna Henson Masters, Ashley A. Albert, Laura L. Dover, Lindsay L. Puckett, Courtney Hentz, Jenna M. Kahn, Lauren E. Colbert, Parul N. Barry, Reshma Jagsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Purpose: Women remain underrepresented at all levels within the field of radiation oncology. We sought to study current female residents’ experiences and concerns to inform interventions to promote gender equity. Furthermore, we evaluated interest in a professional society specifically for women radiation oncologists. Methods and Materials: An anonymous 76-item survey was designed and distributed to current women residents in radiation oncology in 2017-2018. Analyses describe personal, program, and family characteristics and experiences before and after joining the field. Results: Of 170 female residents surveyed, 125 responded (74% response rate). Over one-quarter were in programs with ≤2 female residents (29%) and ≤2 female attendings (29%). One-third (34%) reported having children. Over half (51%) reported that lack of mentorship affected career ambitions. Over half (52%) agreed that gender-specific bias existed in their programs, and over a quarter (27%) reported they had experienced unwanted sexual comments, attention, or advances by a superior or colleague. Only 5% reported no symptoms of burnout. Almost all (95%) agreed that radiation oncology is perceived as family friendly; however, only 52% agreed that it actually is. An overwhelming majority (90%) expressed interest in joining a professional group for women in radiation oncology. Conclusions: In the first study to our knowledge to focus specifically on the experiences of women residents in radiation oncology, a number of areas for potential improvement were highlighted, including isolation and underrepresentation, mentorship needs, bias and harassment, and gender-based obstacles such as need for support during pregnancy and motherhood. These findings support the organization of groups such as the Society for Women in Radiation Oncology, which seeks to target these needs to promote gender equity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1008
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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