WASHINGTON — On day three of the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Washington, DC, I waited for a much-needed cup of coffee behind a trio of attendees deliberating their next move.
The conference gathered 3,600 doctors and public health professionals from some 100 countries to discuss the newest developments in tropical medicine and global health. I was invited to present about global health and the media, and stayed on an extra day to attend some sessions and report.
One member of the trio suggested to his colleagues that they head across the street for breakfast, and his female colleague flipped through the schedule read aloud the title of the session she would miss that morning: “Promoting Women Leaders in Global Health.”
She looked up with a bored expression and said, “No, thank you.”
Perplexed by her nonchalance, I went to the panel. In the room were about 100 women (I also counted six men) who were anything but nonchalant about the issue. Throughout the session, presenters and audience members made compelling cases for why they think the gender disparity in the field of global health is important to discuss.