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Karen Edwards Blogger

Welcome to Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative!

Posted by Karen Edwards | January 21, 2015

Welcome to the Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative’s very first blog posting! Thank you for being the first to join and for being a leader in your profession! Our mission is to help you grow and develop your leadership skills so you can rise to the top of your field. We also hope to promote gender fairness and to eliminate gender biases within the O&P industry by providing professional educational events on these topics. As more women like you become leaders, the more power we will have to change perceptions and workplace practices to make this industry stronger.

For your first educational snippit, here are some interesting facts about women in O&P in the U.S.:

  • 1994: 137 female practitioners are registered with ABC, 10% of total practitioners (source, AOPA)
  • 2014:  1163 female practitioners are registered with ABC, 20% of total practitioners (source, AOPA)
  • This is a 748% increase in the number of female practitioners in 20 years (source, AOPA)
  • 52% of students in the class of 2013 in O&P graduate school are females (source, O&P Edge)

The number of women entering this field is rising exponentially, but has the industry changed in response? According to our recent survey, not nearly enough.

Back in August, Ossur posted an online survey to gauge your interest in this type of education and to find out what would be most helpful to you. Thank you to the 133 of you who participated! Your responses helped prove the need for this initiative and guided our efforts to the ways we could be the most useful. Here are the results of our survey (insert drum roll here…):

  • 133 female respondents
  • 93% agree the O&P industry needs more women in leadership roles
  • 56% feel the O&P industry does not encourage gender fairness in the workplace
  • 80% are interested in being a member of an organization for female O&P practitioners
  • 83% are interested in one or more forms of leadership development (speakers, book clubs, blog emails, webinars, etc.)
  • 50% say their organization does not reward leadership
  • 50% say their organization does not offer adequate benefits such as paid maternity leave
  • Only 35% say they have leadership development opportunities readily available to them
  • 64% are under the age of 40

That is compelling feedback! So, let’s speak up, lean in and change this! How will OWLI help you do this? With some first-class, professional, FREE education.  Our goal for 2015 is to provide:

  1. A monthly blog posting providing educational information and highlighting successful female leaders in O&P
  2. Quarterly 1-hour interactive webinars featuring nationally recognized, professional speakers and web events
  3. Local networking and educational events

Our goals for the future:

  1. To provide national speakers at AAOP and AOPA on topics relevant to our male and female practitioners
  2. To provide an interactive discussion page on our website
  3. Provide nationally recognized speakers at state meetings

So, how can you participate in OWLI and fast track your career growth?

  1. Sign up to become a member at
  2. Encourage all of your female colleagues, residents and female students to sign up as well
  3. Attend OWLI webinars each quarter
  4. Submit topics you would like us to address, ideas of events, books, speakers, etc. (sent to
  5. Nominate successful female leaders in the field we should spotlight on our blog (send to
  6. Work with your local Ossur rep to set up local educational and social events for female practitioners in your area. (The better we know each other, the more we can support each other, right?)
  7. Actively encourage and support your female colleagues every day!


Leadership Challenge (with a prize!):  This month, read Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook). This is the book that really opened my eyes and empowered me to start speaking up and leaning in. It is widely available (I read the electronic copy on my iPad, and Amazon sells it in paperback for $10 and in Kindle edition for $5). Please email me ( and let me know your thoughts on the book and how you will use what you’ve learned to be a stronger leader in O&P. The first three women to read the book and respond will receive a $10 Starbuck’s gift card (it’s like getting the book for free)! I’ll announce the winners in the March edition of the OWLI blog.

Super-secret insider info: Sheryl Sandberg’s Ted Talk will be our first interactive webinar event in February.

Thanks for participating and be on the lookout for next month’s educational blog on unconscious gender biases.

Until February,

Karen Edwards

Director, Ossur Women’s Leadership Initiative


OWLI Quote of the Month: “And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.” – Sojourner Truth, 1851


Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say “hi” by emailing us at