Diversity is essential to create strong and productive organisations, maximizing the strengths and talents of all members of the society. Similarly, a diverse leadership group with unique experiences and perspectives is better able to generate novel ideas and goals, contribute different approaches to an issue, and provide a fresh viewpoint to an organisation.
Orthopedic surgery as a specialty clearly has a lot of work to do in expanding diversity within its ranks. ISAKOS, as an international specialty society, is well positioned to lead the way. While the ISAKOS Biennial Congress is a tapestry of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity, there is one noticeable lack of diversity. Reflecting orthopaedic surgery as a whole, there are very few women. Just 5-7% of US orthopaedic surgeons are women and for many developing countries this percentage is even lower. ISAKOS currently reflects that reality.
The society membership statistics were reported in the latest edition of the ISAKOS Newsletter. There are currently 2,959 members of ISAKOS, of which just 106 (3.6%) are female. Unfortunately, in the history of ISAKOS, only two women have won named research awards at the ISAKOS Congress and just one has been awarded a Conference Scholarship. There are no women on the Executive Committee or Board of Directors of ISAKOS. Nor are there any female committee chairs. In fact, currently, female members fill just 14 of 250 (5.6%) ISAKOS committee positions. The Journal of ISAKOS Editorial Board fares a bit better, with 11.5% being women.
One area of well-earned pride for ISAKOS is its commitment to addressing geographic and cultural diversity. Achieving gender diversity and inclusion presents as the next challenge for societies such as ISAKOS as well as the entire orthopaedic community. Willem van der Merwe, MD and David Parker, MD, along with the Executive Committee of ISAKOS, aim to address this challenge. With full support from ISAKOS, the Gender Diversity and Inclusion Task Force has been established and consists of eighteen female members, from North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Asia-Pacific. Dr. Laurie Hiemstra is chair of the newly formed Task Force, with Drs. David Parker and Jason Koh serving as Executive liaisons.
Under the leadership of Dr. Hiemstra, the task force will guide ISAKOS in implementing and maintaining gender diversity and inclusion principles. Dr. Hiemstra is an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sport medicine and arthroscopic surgery in Banff, Canada. She is an Executive Committee member of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) and the Arthroscopy Association of Canada (AAC). Dr. Hiemstra was recently elected 2nd President Elect of the COA and will be the first female president of the organisation.
The first goal of the ISAKOS Gender Diversity and Inclusion Task Force is to increase the number of female members and improve engagement by highlighting the lack of gender diversity within the society. Increasing the number of female members and clearly demonstrating inclusivity and acceptance within all areas of ISAKOS will help promote the society’s commitment to improving diversity.
The second goal is to increase female representation in educational activities, the biannual Congress, and executive structure of ISAKOS. The inclusion of a larger number of women in the ISAKOS scientific meetings and bi-annual Congress will create a wider range of ideas and viewpoints, and through this, improved teaching and learning for our members. As Julie Silver, MD, from Harvard University so eloquently says “For any award (or position or lecture or role) in medicine, there are more than zero women who deserve it.”
As with all initiatives, the Gender Diversity and Inclusion Task Force cannot succeed without genuine support from male allies. The vision of the #heforshe leaders in ISAKOS, Willem van der Merwe, Guillermo Arce, David Parker, Jason Koh, Volker Musahl, and Mark Clatworthy, is extremely important. Working together towards a stronger, more diverse ISAKOS should be the goal of all our members. We urge support, encouragement, and action for this important initiative.
Dr. Mary Mulcahey (@marykmulcaheymd) is a member of the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee and Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (@ISAKOS_society). She earned her MD from the University of Rochester School of Medicine (@urmedical) in Rochester, NY, completed her orthopaedic residency at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University (@brownorthopedics), and did her sports medicine fellowship at San Diego Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine. Dr. Mulcahey is an Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine (@tulanemed) and the Director of Tulane Women’s Sports Medicine Program (@tuwomensportsmedicine). She is currently Secretary of the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (@ruthjacksonortho), which is a position in the Presidential line. Dr. Mulcahey is also very active in the Arthroscopy Association of North America (@aanaorg), American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (@aossm_1972), and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (@aaos_1). She is passionate about improving diversity in orthopaedic surgery. Her areas of clinical expertise include shoulder injuries, rotator cuff tears, rotator cuff tendinitis, biceps tendinitis, shoulder instability, labral tears, knee injuries, ACL tears, meniscus tears, patellar instability, and tendon injuries.
Dr. van Eck is an Editorial Board member for the Journal of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee and Orthopedic Sports Medicine (@J_ISAKOS). She earned her MD and PhD from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and went on to complete her orthopaedic surgical residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (@UPMC) and a fellowship in orthopaedic sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. Dr. van Eck is an active member of several organizations including the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, Orthopaedic Research Society (@ORSsociety), European Society for Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy (@ESSKA_society), Arthroscopy Association of North America (@AANAOrg), American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (@AAOS1), Dutch Arthroscopy Society (@NedVerArthro), and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons (@AAHKS). Dr. van Eck is in practice at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Sports Medicine, and serves as a team physician for Robert Morris University and the Pittsburgh Passion
Dr. Hiemstra is Chair of the Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force for the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee and Orthopedic Sports Medicine (@ISAKOS). She earned her MD from Memorial University of Newfoundland, completed orthopaedic surgical residency at University of Manitoba, Clinical Fellowship in Orthopedic Sport Medicine at the University of Western Ontario (@WesternU), and was the 2013-2014 recipient of the Patellofemoral Traveling Fellowship. She also has a PhD in Neuromuscular Physiology. Dr. Hiemstra is an Orthopaedic Surgeon at Banff Sport Medicine (@BanffSportMed) since 2005, and is the current appointed Director of Research. She is an Assoc. Professor at the University of Calgary (@UCalgary) and Vice President of the Arthroscopy Association of Canada (@ArthroscopyCA), as well as an active member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America (@AANAOrg), American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine (@AOSSM_SportsMed), and Canadian Orthopaedic Association (@CdnOrthoAssoc). Dr. Hiemstra is committed to increasing inclusion and leadership roles for women and under-represented minorities in Orthopaedics, and is also a member of the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance (@orthodiversity).
Dr. Arendt is an active member of the International Society of Arthroscopy, Knee and Orthopedic Sports Medicine (@ISAKOS) and serves on the Journal of ISAKOS Editorial Board (@J_ISAKOS). She earned her MD from the University of Rochester (@UR_Med), completed orthopaedic surgical residency at Strong Memorial Hospital, and completed sports medicine residency and fellowship at the University of Minnesota (@UMNOrthoSurg). She is a Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Minnesota Medical School (@UMNMedSchool), and is also on the Editorial Boards of several other publications including the British Journal of Sports Medicine (@BJSM_BMJ), Orthopaedics Today, Sports Medicine and Arthoscopy Review, and the American Journal of Sports Medicine (@AJSM_SportsMed). Dr. Arendt is the Medical Director for the University of Minnesota’s Inpatient Orthopaedic Ward (2007-Present) and Assoc. Medical Director of Women’s Sports Medicine at TRIA Orthopaedic Center in Woodbury, MN. She has received numerous recognitions including “Top Doctor” from Mpls St. Paul (2008, 2012-2019) and “Best Doctor” from Minnesota Monthly (2014-2017).
Dr. Ashley Bassett is a fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon specializing in the treatment of sport-related injuries in athletes of all ages. She received her medical degree from Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where she was elected into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and Gold Humanism Honor Society. Dr. Bassett then completed her surgical residency at the Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program. After residency, Dr. Bassett went on to earn a fellowship specializing in sports medicine at the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, where she was a team physician for the Philadelphia Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and 76ers, as well as Villanova University and St. Joseph’s University Athletics. During her fellowship, she was presented the Philip Syng Physic Award for research on return to play testing after ACL reconstruction. Dr. Bassett is now the Director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Orthopedic Institute of New Jersey, the only highly-specialized center for the care of female athletes in northern New Jersey. In her free time, Dr. Bassett enjoys being outdoors, hiking and playing the occasional squash match with her husband.