Women in allergy

May 31, 2018

For the first time in its history, the College has more women than men volunteering to serve on committees. It is one of the many ways the College is changing and becoming more representative of our membership and the specialty.

“We have more women, in general, in medicine and, in particular, in allergy. Women have come into their own – asserting their involvement and leadership,” says Dana Wallace, MD, FACAAI, past president of the College. She points out we have more work to do to advance women into leadership positions and offers great advice to female College members who are ready to get more involved. This includes finding the right mentors, joining a committee and taking a hands-on approach to College work.

"I believe there is no better way to maintain and advance my professional knowledge and skills than to be personally involved and intimately immersed in the activities of the College."
–Luz Fonacier, MD, FACAAI

Many of our young female members are already taking steps in this direction. At the College’s recent leadership summit, women represented 67% of the participants. Half of these already serve on committees (two in leadership positions) and nearly all have applied to join committees in 2018. The summit focused on helping young members (under the age of 45) chart their course in leadership and gain the exposure and mentorship they need in support of their advancement. Participants heard from College leaders, including two female committee chairs, Tracy Fausnight, MD, FACAAI (Program Directors Committee) and Janna Tuck, MD, FACAAI (Public Relations Committee) who shared insights on opportunities for advancement within the College. The idea to invite committee chairs to serve as leadership summit faculty came from the 2017 participants who thought it would be beneficial to hear about their role at the committee level. The Program Directors and Public Relations committees have been instrumental in driving strategic initiatives under Vision 2020, and their chairs have played an important role in this work.

We asked Luz Fonacier, MD, FACAAI, College treasurer, to comment on what she sees of value in her involvement with the College. “I have committed myself to giving the best care I can to my patients, and I believe there is no better way to maintain and advance my professional knowledge and skills than to be personally involved and intimately immersed in the activities of the College,” says Dr. Fonacier. She adds, “…my work in the College allows me the opportunity to give back, in my own small way, to the specialty and organization that have provided me with an immeasurable amount of professional and personal fulfillment.” Her advice to young female allergists is “…to find a niche, work on your interests, volunteer your time and expertise and don’t be pulled down by disappointment.” She points out, “…there are many demands [placed on women] including our families and getting our priorities right should not deter us from actively working in the College for our specialty.”