The response rate was 19.9% (n = 149) which is the best response for a CIRSE online questionnaire to date.
The percentage responses in descending order from 35 countries worldwide were: UK (18%), Italy (11%), Germany (11%), Spain (7%), Netherlands (5%), France (5%), Sweden (4%), USA (4%) and in the remaining 27 countries (35%) where percentage responses was < 3% in each country.
The online responses according to age-group were as follows: 30 years or below (6%), 31–45 years (56%), 40–46 years (35%) and > 60 years (3%).
83% of respondents worked full time and 11% part time. 8% responded “other” and indicated they were on maternity leave, worked as locums or in research.
The amount of time dedicated to IR was ranked into four categories (Table 1).
The majority of respondents worked in a university teaching/tertiary referral hospital (67%; n = 101), 21% (n = 31) in a general hospital, 9% (n = 14) in a private hospital/clinic and 2% (n = 3) specified “other”.
The size of the institution was categorized according to their number of hospital beds, and there were five categories (Table 2).
The results reflect that most IR practice tends to be centred in large institutions with teaching facilities.
The percentage of female colleagues in the IR department revealed that 69% (n = 103) had no or very few female IR colleagues and only 14.7% of the IR departments were female IRs in the majority (Table 3).
Respondents were asked whether they had a leadership role in their department. The majority (52%) had no leadership role but 26% said they were team group leaders. As IR is a subspecialty of radiology, this implies that they lead their IR team but are not heads of the Radiology department. However, 12% were departmental heads of department (Table 4).
When asked whether their direct superior was male or female, 79%; (n = 117) responded that their direct superior was male.
As some leadership roles are not permanent, respondents were asked whether they had ever held a leadership position even if they were not currently in one. 19% (n = 29) replied that they had. These roles were wide ranging from CEO/President of a National or International Society to department/university management roles.
The next part of the survey attempts to quantify respondents’ perceptions of attitudes prevailing within IR.
When faced with the statement “IR is a less attractive career for women than other medical specialties”, 68% of respondents disagreed and 32% agreed. However, when the responses were matched to the different age-groups, female IRs < 45 years were more likely to agree with the statement, particularly those 30 years or less (Table 5).
Fifty open responses to this statement were obtained from the respondents (Fig. 1). The top five influencing factors for agreement were: on call working pattern, radiation related concern, pregnancy-related concerns, hard to combine with family and male-dominated network.
In response to the statement “Women are at a disadvantage when pursuing a career in interventional radiology” 63% disagreed whilst 37% agreed. However, when matched to age-group, female IRs < 45 years had a higher percentage likelihood of agreeing with the statement (Table 6).
There were 55 open responses in support of this statement. The five main reasons for agreeing with the statement were discrimination, male domination, pregnancy-related issues, hard to combine with family and lower expectations for women (Fig. 2).
In response to the statement “Female IRs and radiologists are treated differently than my male colleagues by my superiors”, 71% of the respondents disagreed and 29% agreed. When analysed according to age-group, only the < 30 years group were more likely to agree with the statement (Table 7). There were 43 open responses, and the four main reasons cited were that female IRs are considered less capable/weak, male-dominated network, unsociable working hours and lower expectation for women.
In response to the statement “As a female IR it is harder to get a promotion”, 72% disagreed, and there was no difference according to age-group (Table 8). A total of 42 open responses were received, and the three main reasons cited by those who agreed with the statement were pregnancy-/maternity-related concern, male-dominated networks, and female IRs are undervalued.
In response to the statement “Female IRs are paid less than their male colleagues”, 88% of respondents disagreed (Table 9).
In response to the statement “It is harder for female IRs to have both a fulfilled career and family life than for male IRs”, 67% agreed with the statement. Female respondents > 45 years were less vehement in their agreement than younger respondents (Table 10).
When this statement was matched with the country of origin, the response rate is illustrated in Table 11. There is national variation but only two countries (Denmark and USA) where the majority of respondents disagreed with the statement. One hundred open responses were received and, the three main reasons provided for agreeing with this statement were: difficult to combine with family life as pregnancies slow career progress, women have more domestic responsibilities and on call/long hours working (Fig. 3).
In response to the statement “Interventional radiology is dominated by male networks”, 77% of respondents agreed. Only in the > 60 years age-group did the majority disagree (Table 12). 114 open responses were provided, and the main reason for agreeing with the statement was that the overwhelming majority of IRs are male (Fig. 4).
The majority of respondents (82%; n = 107) had a mentor/role model during the early stage of their career. Mentors/role models were 72% male (n = 76), 9% female (n = 10) and 19% (n = 20) had both male and female mentors/role models.
Role of CIRSE
110 responses were obtained from the open question “What could CIRSE do to make interventional radiology more attractive to female medical students and female radiology trainees?”, and these are illustrated in Table 13.
In response to the final question “Would you, in principle, be interested in holding office for CIRSE or participating in one of its committees or task forces?”, 67% of respondents declared that they would, whilst 6% either have done or currently do so. Only 27% would prefer not to take up a leadership position.