HealthDay News — Female oncologists attend significantly fewer conferences than male oncologists, according to a research letter published online July 18 in JAMA Oncology.

Miriam A. Knoll, MD, from the John Theurer Cancer Center in Hackensack, New Jersey, and colleagues surveyed 449 oncologists at 47 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers, who had completed their hematology/oncology or radiation oncology training within 6 years after 2010. A total of 248 oncologists responded to the survey.

The researchers found that most of the respondents had children who required adult supervision (71.3% of women and 75.7% of men). Overall, 74.1% of the women and 45% of the men had full-time employed spouses. The mean weekly hours spent on parenting and domestic tasks were 41.5 and 32.2 for women and men, respectively. In the past year, women attended significantly fewer conferences than men (2 vs 3). After adjustment for specialty, age, years since residency, and other confounding variables, women attended 0.58 fewer conferences over the past year than men. Both men and women answered a mean of 8 to a question regarding the importance of attending conferences to an oncologist’s career advancement. Women were more likely to indicate the importance of whether the meeting conflicted with child care responsibilities when deciding whether to attend a conference.

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“Women want to attend these meetings. They offer critical opportunities for leadership, networking, education, mentorship, scholarly dissemination, and so much more,” a coauthor said in a statement. “For our profession to access the full talent pool and reap the demonstrated benefits of diversity, we need to figure out ways to promote work-life integration.”

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One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, insurance, and legal industries.

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