Diversity and Inclusion at the William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History

By: Ronald Rabinowitz, MD, FAAP, FACS | Posted on: 01 Apr 2022

Over the past 15 years, AUA historians, curators, archivists, the History Committee and AUA staff have worked to build awareness of racism, sexism and ageism in the history of medicine. Diversity and inclusion have increased in history exhibits, membership on the History Committee and work groups, and in the History Forum Abstract Review Committee. Historians know that the best history includes many perspectives.

At the 2007 AUA Annual Meeting, Rainer Engel curated the exhibit and publication “Women Healers.” This exhibit highlighted the progression of women in health care from antiquity to modern times, including nursing and medicine, and progressing to female surgeons and urologists. In 2005, the AUA had 227 female members; today there are 4,039.

The 2012 exhibit curated by Michael Moran was “Skeletons in the Closet: Indignities & Injustices in Medicine.” The book of the same name included chapters on failed medical ethics in both research and clinical care, including the legacies of Henrietta Lacks and Alan Turing, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study and controversy surrounding J. Marion Sims. History Committee members and medical historians reported on historical aspects of unethical experimentation and/or treatment of Blacks, Hispanics, women, Jews, Chinese, Koreans, homosexuals, and physically impaired and mentally impaired persons. Copies of this book, published by the AUA, can be obtained at the Museum giftshop or by emailing mmatthews@auanet.org.

To further improve the Didusch Center’s efforts to be more inclusive regarding race, gender, age and nationality, and to appeal to a broader audience, a strategic business plan was completed in 2018. One of the goals was to create diverse leadership for the Didusch Center for Urologic History. This included having an annual topic-specialist curator for each year’s exhibit, restructuring the History Committee, and adding work groups to assist the History Committee and Museum. In the past, the History Committee consisted of the 8 Section historians (chosen by the Sections), the curator and the AUA historian. This more diverse Committee now includes the AUA historian, exhibit curator, recent or emeritus curator, 8 Section historians, international representative, Young Urologist representative, Resident representative, Leadership representative and 4 members-at-large.

The work groups include some members of the History Committee and other AUA members who have interests in 1 or more of the work groups. These groups include Exhibits and Collections, Digital, Academic and Finance. AUA staff are also members of each work group. Most recently, the History Forum Abstract Review Committee has expanded from 4 to 8 members, and now includes the AUA historian, 1 Section historian, 1 European member of the History Committee, 3 at-large members of the History Committee and the Young Urologist representative. Three of the 8 are women.

In summary, the William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History has been a pilot in advancing inclusion and adding diversity in both exhibits and leadership. We know this is important work.

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