Rachael Moses: Attending the ATS International Conference Women's Forum in Washington, D.C

Monday, July 10, 2023

Respiratory Futures is celebrating Rachael Moses, past BTS President (back row, fourth from the left), who recently attended the ATS Women’s Forum in Washington D.C. Below is a summary of Rachael about her time at the conference, and the importance of recognising female leadership.


The annual ATS Women’s Forum recognises the achievements and supports the advancement of women in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine and research. The Forum provides a valuable opportunity for women to find value in the inspirational messages and career insights the speakers share. The Forum has been a popular event that brings together women from all stages of their career from fellows to senior faculty members, doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists and all members of the multidisciplinary team to meet, network, build community, and celebrate the achievements of women in respiratory medicine.

This year the ATS planned to celebrate the female leadership of our global respiratory societies and elevate the voices of women in our field by providing a platform they could be recognised for their achievements.  Female leaders were invited to attend a women’s Forum which included a keynote speech from the amazing Professors Refiloe Masekela* and Margareth Dalcolmo** (see more information below).  At the beginning of the Forum there was an introduction to the event and explanation of the Forum.  The room was full with around 300 people attending, the majority being women but also some men in the audience who later went onto share words of allyship and recognition on social media. 

As the forum proceeded, the ATS Women’s Forum Chair, Professor Meshell Johnson spoke about the global society female leaders invited to the Forum and their successes in leadership roles. These leaders were then invited to the stage to receive a pin badge which represented smashing glass ceilings and a recognition of achievement.  This was followed by photographs and a dinner for us to attend, at which the two keynote speakers gave a talk followed by panel discussion.  Finally, there was an opportunity to network with other female leaders from around the globe.

As BTS past president and historically only the fourth female president in 40 years it was an absolute privilege to attend this event.  I felt very proud that BTS was not only represented but included in such an important event and when asked about my experiences as a society President, I was able to answer honestly.  Someone tweeted there were only 7 female global leaders of respiratory societies so I was super proud to be there as one of them.  The support I have had from the entire team at BTS, the Board, members and colleagues has been truly wonderful and I can only speak with fond and happy memories.  I have been honest that not everyone had faith in me in this role, but this has not been an isolated event in my career to date and something other female leaders have also experienced. It reinforced its important to trust those close to you, that support and empower you and give you honest and critical feedback when needed. I am grateful to all those who really supported me in the President role and I am truly grateful.  I do hope this inspires other female members to step forward for both the President and Chair roles at BTS as I am sure you will receive the same support that I did.


* Professor Refiloe Masekela is a NIHR Global Health Research Professor and Associate Professor and Head of Department of Pediatrics and Child Health in South Africa with her area of research interest including asthma epidemiology and affordable medicines in children as well as pulmonary function testing and improving access to pulmonary diagnostic tests in Africa. She is the co-Chair of the Global Asthma Network (GAN) and is a Science Committee Member of the Global Initiative of Asthma (GINA). She is the Vice-Chair of the Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS) and member of the Global Lung Initiative (GLI) Network. She is passionate about research capacity strengthening in Africa and is the current Co-Director of the ATS Methods in Epidemiology, Clinical and Operational Research (MECOR) Flagship program in Africa (PATS-MECOR).


** Professor Margareth Pretti Dalcolmo is a respiratory physician and senior researcher from Brazil with areas of interest including tuberculosis and other mycobacteriosis, as well as COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. She is a member of the Advisory Committee on Tuberculosis of the Ministry of Health and the scientific committees of the Brazilian Societies of Thoracic Diseases and Infectious Diseases, of the TB Research Network, and member of the Steering Committee of the Group named RESIST TB. She is also a member of the Expert Group for Essential Medicines List of the WHO and the Regional Advisory Committee of the World Bank for health projects in Sub-Saharan Africa on Tuberculosis and occupational respiratory diseases. She is also the current President-elect of the Brazilian Thoracic Society.