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‘More Walk and Less Talk’: Changing gender bias in sports medicine
  1. Kristian Thorborg1,
  2. Laura Krohn1,
  3. Thomas Bandholm2,
  4. Julie Sandell Jacobsen3,4,
  5. Michael Skovdal Rathleff5,6,
  6. Heidi Klakk7,
  7. Karen Kotila8
  1. 1 Sports Orthopaedic Research Center–Copenhagen (SORC-C), Arthroscopic Center, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager-Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark
  2. 2 Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Research – Copenhagen (PMR-C), Clinical Research Department, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Copenhagen University Hospital, Amager and Hvidovre, Hvidovre, Denmark
  3. 3 Research Centre for Health and Welfare Technology, Programme for Rehabilitation, VIA University College, Hedeager 2, Aarhus, Denmark
  4. 4 Research Unit of General Practice in Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark
  5. 5 Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  6. 6 Center for General Practice, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  7. 7 Centre for Research in Childhood Health, Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
  8. 8 Danish Society of Sports Physical Therapy, Odense, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kristian Thorborg, Sports Orthopaedic Research Center–Copenhagen (SORC-C), Arthroscopic Center, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre 2650, Denmark; kristianthorborg{at}

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In the Danish Society of Sports Physical Therapy (DSSF), we were greatly inspired by the paper: ‘We need to talk about manels: the problem of implicit gender bias in sport and exercise medicine’ published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2018.1 The paper elegantly addresses gender bias in sports medicine,2 and how lack of diversity, whether it concerns skin colour, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender identity etc., as pointed out by Bekker et al, ‘structurally affords certain groups rights and privileges above others’. Bekker et al, use the term ‘manel’ to describe panels at conferences or meetings consisting only of men. This paper made it clear to us, that being intentional is different from having good intentions. We took it for granted that we were part of a culture that provided equal opportunities for all genders but never openly discussed it at scientific board meetings. We were wrong—and Bekker and coauthors facilitated a much-needed self-reflection.

It IS possible to achieve gender balance in Sports Medicine. The International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy World Congress changed from …

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  • Twitter @KThorborg, @TBandholm

  • Contributors KT drafted the manuscript. LK extracted data used in the editorial, and all coauthors critically reviewed and edited the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests The authors are all involved at either the scientific board (KT, TB, JSJ, HK, MSR) or the organising committee (LK and KK) of the World Congress in Sports Physical Therapy. KT is the President of International Federation of Sports Physical Therapy (IFSPT), and KK is the Chairman of DSSF.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.