Charlotte Jane Yong-Hing, MD, FRCPS, Vice-Chair of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia Department of Radiology, contributed this piece.

The concept of the leaky pathway addresses attrition among professionals from underrepresented groups as they progress in their careers. It signifies gaps in the intended route for talent to move upward, resulting in the loss of diverse medical professionals.

The percentage of women and underrepresented groups in radiology has largely remained stagnant, despite an increase in medical students who have been traditionally marginalized. Women are underrepresented in every practice type. Only 2% of radiology faculty is Black, compared with 10% of medical school graduates and 14% of the general population. There is an undeniable need to increase these numbers and to encourage and provide appropriate mentorship, sponsorship and coaching opportunities to ensure that talented and dedicated radiologists reach higher ranks.

There is a need to bolster the number of women and others who are underrepresented in medicine and entering radiology. Beyond this primary need there is a growing crisis among mid-career radiologists who need mentors and more senior radiologists to guide them on a path toward promotion and leadership roles.

Unfortunately, this pathway is more difficult for women and minorities in radiology. When we talk about minorities, these count not only race-based cohorts but also people with cultural, gender identification, socioeconomic and other differences. They often lack institutional support and may face discrimination and unconscious biases that can create hostile work environments and limit opportunities. Women in radiology are more likely to report work-life balance issues and lower career satisfaction compared to men. These obstacles can significantly hinder women’s pursuit of demanding roles, especially in academic medicine.

Mentorship, sponsorship and having access to a champion are so important. We are now seeing that mid-career radiologists need this. Mentors and sponsors can encourage mid-career radiologists to apply for different positions within the same group or institution garnering recognition for what they are already doing. These things can influence change a person’s career path increasing satisfaction and job performance. In my radiology career, mentors played a vital role in establishing Canadian Radiology Women (CRW) and fostering an inclusive community through local and national equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives. Early guidance enabled me to navigate challenges, and diverse mentors, including white men and more junior experts, contributed to the success of these initiatives. Being a mentor has further allowed me to contribute to the growth of the CRW and EDI community, addressing the leaky pathway and promoting diversity in radiology. Recognizing the impact of diverse mentorship is key to empowering mid-career radiologists and positively influencing their trajectories.

Read more in this month’s issue of the ACR Bulletin.

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