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Leadership & Management

First female AOA President to lead a new era in orthopaedics

Health Industry Hub | January 12, 2022 |
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Leadership & Management: Welcome to Health Industry Hub’s Women in Leadership Series – connecting, engaging and empowering women in the MedTech, Pharma and Biotech sectors by celebrating and sharing the journey of inspirational and passionate women leaders in the healthcare industry.

In a recent interview with Health Industry Hub, Dr Annette Holian, the first female President of the Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA) to be appointed in 85 years, talks of how she forged her own path on her remarkable career journey, why she intends to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) within the orthopaedics profession, and the dynamics shaping 2022 for women in leadership within orthopaedics.

On her intention to advance DE&I within the orthopaedics profession during her appointment, Dr Holian said “It is raising awareness about the gender discrimination that is all around us. And in orthopaedics surgery, it’s very much a man’s world.

“The [AOA] diversity strategy is extending into 2022 – 2024 and we’ve included more aspects to gender equity to also ensure that barriers to people who want to train and are capable of being trained to be an orthopaedic surgeon for their communities are removed. The biggest merit that determines people getting into surgery at the moment is the postcode of the school they went to and that simply has to change, and it is changing.

“There’s a lot of emphasis now more broadly, not just in orthopaedics, on selecting for rural populations. There’s also been quite a bit of work on the inclusion of indigenous people in our training. We have three registrars and about to graduate our first indigenous orthopaedic surgeon in New South Wales. He’s going to head up our cultural inclusion committee,” she added.

Dr Holian commented on becoming an influential female leader while staying authentic and true to her values. “I’m very strong on having courage and integrity, they’re probably my two leading values. Courage is about speaking up when I see injustices or people not being included or being discriminated against. It’s easy and more comfortable not to see it, to disregard it and not say anything, but then I have great difficulty living with myself because I haven’t been true to those values. It’s really hard but I think we have to speak up when we see issues like that. That’s where we need our male allies as well.”


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