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A Woman's Work

Lockdown invites reflection. Over the last two months, I have spent a lot of time thinking, my mind often wandering to the halcyon days “before COVID-19.” It is easy to romanticize the past when the present is uncertain. But it would be naive to pretend things were perfect before SARS-CoV-2 changed our lives. The pandemic has exposed inequalities in our society and confirmed what we have always known – that life is not always fair.

Crises remind us that, though we may (sometimes) feel like masters of our destiny, there is much we cannot control – and perhaps that’s why so many of us are turning our attention to things we can: exercise, volunteering, baking...  At The Ophthalmologist, it has also meant looking elsewhere. You may know that we are currently an all-female editorial team – and it has been disappointing for us to see so few women on the Power List.

We always strive to make content as representative as possible, reflecting the diversity of the specialty – but somehow our Power Lists fall short when it comes to gender parity. Every year, we ask for our readers to nominate their most extraordinary peers. Every year, the list is published and we are again asked: where are the women?

If history has taught us anything, it is that this current crisis will pass and the world will be changed.

For seven years, we have left it up to the ophthalmology community and independent judges to decide who makes the list. But, for reasons simple and complicated, the Top 100 is always dominated by men. In 2014, there were 13 women on the list, a result repeated in 2018. In 2020 – there are 17, with just one in the Top 10. And that is why we have now decided to address the issue directly. In 2021, the Power List will take on a singular focus: The Top 50 Women in Ophthalmology. We hope that our efforts are not seen as tokenism or condescension, but rather an attempt to balance the scales – necessary until meritocracy becomes more practice than theory. We look forward to receiving your nominations here

If history has taught us anything, it is that this current crisis will pass and the world will be changed. We may not have a say in when, but we have some control in how. Let us play our part – however small – in making it fairer. 

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About the Author

Phoebe Harkin

Associate Editor of The Ophthalmologist

I’ve always loved telling stories. So much so, I decided to make a job of it. I finished a Masters in Magazine Journalism and spent three years working as a creative copywriter before itchy feet sent me (back)packing. It took seven months and 13 countries, but I’m now happily settled on The Ophthalmologist, where I’m busy getting stuck into all things eyeballs.

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