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Significant presence of women in oncology, but still under-representation in leadership positions, Greek survey shows Версия для печати Отправить на e-mail

New initiative aims to promote exchange of ideas among female oncologists
and support women with cancer in Greece

Lugano/Madrid, 28 Septemeber 2014 -- A growing number of oncologists in Greece are female, but women continue to be under-represented in leadership positions, according to a survey reported at the ESMO 2014 Congress.

“In Greece, and across Europe, women oncologists still find it hard to access leadership or academic positions,” said Dr Helena Linardou, Associate Director of the 1st Department of Oncology at the Metropolitan Hospital, Athens, Greece, who presented the survey results at the congress.

“Women are indeed increasingly choosing oncology specialties in Greece, however, most decision-making posts are still dominated by men across the profession, in private practice, academia and national health environments. This needs to change,” she said.

The survey of 80 female members of the Hellenic Societies of Medical, Radiation and Surgical Oncology showed that while women were widely represented in workplaces, team leaders were men in 82% of cases.

“The survey also showed that women oncologists are hugely under-represented in international scientific meetings and scientific society boards, and still have difficulties travelling abroad and accessing education opportunities at international level,” Linardou said.

The study was conducted as part of a European initiative of and for female oncology professionals, known as “Women for Oncology” (W4O)[1], launched by the European Society for Medical Oncology in 2013.

The Greek national equivalent, called ‘W4O-Hellas’, aims to create a support network for female oncologists, but also to provide a platform of direct communication and essential contribution from women doctors to women cancer patients, Linardou explains.

“This forum of women will promote the interaction and exchange of ideas among women oncologists in Greece and across Europe and will embrace and assist them throughout their career in oncology. The novelty, however, is that at the same time, this forum will offer advice, awareness and support directly from women oncologists to women suffering from cancer and their families in Greece.”

The group has fund-raising events and public education meetings planned for the immediate future and an inaugural event is scheduled for Sunday, 12 October 2014, in the Athens Concert Hall (Megaron Mousikis).

“We hope to give the opportunity to women professionals from Greece and across Europe to exchange ideas and find common ground, and to discuss openly some issues faced by women with cancer,” Linardou said.

“In Europe we are still suffering considerable discrepancies in terms of career opportunities between men and women,” said Dr Solange Peters, ESMO Executive Board member, active in the first ESMO W4O Forum in 2013. “Women still have difficulties to access leadership positions, and for them the compatibility between professional career and daily life is still more difficult as compared to male counterparts.”

The Greek oncology community should be congratulated to have taken this initiative so seriously, taking into consideration not only women doctors but also creating a link between female practicing oncologists and female cancer patients, Peters added.

“On behalf of the ESMO Women for Oncology initiative, we encourage female colleagues in all European countries to launch similar national projects and support the career of female oncology professionals,” she concluded.



Notes to Editors

1082O_PR: Women 4 Oncology in Greece: exploring common challenges- survey of the Hellenic Society of Medical Oncology among women oncology professionals



Information contained in this press release was provided by the abstract authors and reflects the content of the studies. It does not necessarily express ESMO's point of view.

Session info

1082O_PR                            Sunday, September 28, 2014            11:00 AM–12.20 PM            Hall Alicante

About the European Society for Medical Oncology

The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) is the leading European professional organisation committed to advancing the specialty of medical oncology and promoting a multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment and care.
ESMO’s mission is to advance cancer care and cure through fostering and disseminating good science that leads to better medicine and determines best practice.

The ESMO international community counts more than 9,000 oncology professionals sharing best practices and the latest know-how in cancer treatment and care.

ESMO’s scientific journal, Annals of Oncology, ranks among the top 10 clinical oncology journals worldwide.

To find out more about ESMO, please visit:

Abstract: 1082O_PR

Women 4 Oncology in Greece: exploring common challenges- survey of the Hellenic Society of Medical Oncology among women oncology professionals

H. Linardou, A. Christopoulou, S. Agelaki, E. Galani, Z. Saridaki, A. Psyrri, A. Athanasiadis
Women 4 Oncology- Hellas, Hellenic Society of Medical Oncology (HeSMO), Athens, GREECE

Aim: More women doctors choose oncology as a career but few are in leadership posts. Following the successful ESMO W4O initiative, a Forum of Women in Oncology in Greece was developed within HeSMO under the auspices of ESMO. Is a professional network of women in all oncology specialties to identify common problems, advocate for solutions and support women in oncology but also women with cancer through educative, awareness and fundraising actions.

Methods: A questionnaire adapted from the ESMO survey, was distributed to women members of the Hellenic Societies of Medical, Radiation and Surgical Oncology and other women oncology professionals.

Results: HeSMO has 245 members, 19% women. There is increasing number of female young members (GYMO 161 members, 33.5% women) but women Board representation is very limited (1 woman in 7 Board members). Analysis of the initial 60 questionnaires most from women HeSMO members (78%) is presented; responses from all oncology societies will be included in the final presentation. Responders are certified oncologists (85%), 52% in public and university hospitals, 44% in private, 70% mothers usually of 2-3 kids (65%). Most have 1- 10 publications but their name is rarely first or last. Women participate in national conferences (86% in 1-10/yr) but less often in international (55% never) and fewer as invited speakers/ chairs. Women representation at work teams is increasing (38% majority women), but the team leader is usually man (79%). Key professional satisfaction factors are relationship with patients (87%), intellectual stimulation (70%) and fighting a challenging disease (51%), similar to the ESMO survey. More than 1/3 (34%) believe women offer multi-tasking ability and smoother communication (20%). Work-family balance is the main challenge to career progression (63%). More than 1/3 (38%) propose mentorship programs, dedicated posts in boards, women oncologists’ network and flexible training.

Conclusions: This survey on women oncologists in Greece, the 1st such national effort in Europe, reveals increasing presence of women in oncology workforce but under-representation in leadership similar to the ESMO report. The W4O initiatives identify common problems but also advocate national/ international actions to bridge career inequalities, promote work-family balance, recognize and develop women oncology leaders.

Disclosure: All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

Keywords: women, oncologists, career development

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