Three things happened to me this week that made realise that I am a feminist.
Firstly, Alasdair Coles' complimented me on the piece I wrote about 'the MS Establishment' and the observation that so few women neurologists have made it onto trial steering committees. He has even asked some of his Cambridge medical students to track down the sex of all the author's in his database so that we can do formal metrics on the male:female ratio of writing committee members of the pivotal phase 3 studies. I believe that highlighting the issue of a lack of women at the top may nudge the MS community to do something about it. At the MS Society Treatment Selection Workshop I attended on Tuesday, where I met Alasdair Coles, I was sitting next to a younger female colleague when Dr Richard Wyse, from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, was presenting. He showed a slide of their expert advisory committee, which had a list of 18-20 names of eminent Parkinson's Disease experts from around the globe. The sad thing was that not one of them was a woman. I nudged my female colleague and pointed out the total lack of women on this panel and she responded that men make more noise and hence are more likely to get invited to these sorts of things. That is not the issue. Without the diversity and different thinking, that women bring to committees like this, these committees are likely to underperform. And why shouldn't women make it to the top in their fields of study? Finally, I was teaching a group of Latin American Neurologists later this week when one of the female neurologists in the group said she supported everything I was doing to help women in neurology. 'What I asked her?' She said she viewed me as a feminist and followed me on Twitter and LinkedIn. To be honest with you I thought I was just being a good Dad standing up for his daughters' future rights. I have never thought about being a feminist in the past, but I suppose as a person who supports equal rights for women in society and in the workplace, I am one. I have just arrived in LaLa land to attend the AAN. I wonder how many of the attendees will be women? If you are reading this and are in a position of influence can you please try and support women in neurology, in particular academic neurology. There are far too few at the top.