Women in procedural leadership roles in cardiology: The Women In Local Leadership (WILL) observational study

Megan Coylewright, Shayne E. Dodge, Kinan Bachour, Sharmin Hossain, Emily P. Zeitler, Stephen Kearing, Pamela S. Douglas, David Holmes, Vivek Y. Reddy, Devi Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although 50% of U.S. medical students are women, this percentage fails to translate to cardiology. Gender disparities are striking in interventional cardiology (IC) and electrophysiology (EP) and in leadership. Left atrial appendage closure with the WATCHMAN device, as a novel procedure, is a lens into inequities. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify the characteristics and prevalence of women (1) as early WATCHMAN implanters and (2) in related leadership. Methods: Data were collected on WATCHMAN implanters and hospitals from January 2017 to December 2018. The gender of physicians in leadership positions was identified via survey as Director of IC, Director of EP, and Chief of Cardiology. The Firth logistic model controlling for covariates modeled the rare event of a woman implanter. Results: Data were obtained for 100% of the cohort. Men comprised 97% of implanters (860/886). No differences in subspecialty or implants by gender were observed. There were 414 hospitals performing WATCHMAN: 24% academic, 97% urban, and most medium/large size (94%). EP made up 61% of implanters. Only 4.8% of hospitals had women in selected leadership roles. Women represented <1% of Directors of IC and only 2.6% of both Directors of EP and Chiefs of Cardiology. Hospitals with a woman in leadership had a 4 times greater odds of a woman implanter (odds ratio 4.24; 95% confidence interval 1.16–15.41; P = .028). Conclusion: Women are underrepresented in cardiology procedural subspecialties in the use of novel technology and in key leadership roles. There was a greater odds of women early implanters of WATCHMAN if a woman led locally. Increasing women in leadership may improve gender diversity through visibility of role models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-629
Number of pages7
JournalHeart rhythm
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Cardiology workforce
  • Electrophysiology
  • Gender disparities
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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