More than half of the global retina consultant workforce are women, with the vast majority of the workforce located in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, the Global Retina Report 2016 found.
A large proportion of the population of the Middle and North East and North Africa are female, with Asia, Europe and Africa being the most heavily populated regions, according to the report.
The report said women make up nearly half of global retinas consultants.
The most frequently cited reasons women said they did not want to work with retinas were “financial”, “emotional” and “uncomfortable”.
“Retina consultants are a group that has always felt isolated and excluded,” said one female retina specialist.
“They are often considered to be a lost cause.”
One consultant said she was concerned about “people feeling uncomfortable with a woman in the office” because the industry is still a “man’s” business.
“I think the industry has gone through a lot of change, but also it’s an industry that women have to adapt to,” she said.
The global retinoblastics consultant sector is estimated to employ 1.7 million people, with a median age of 35.
The average age of a global retinal consultant is 41, according the report, which also found there were a small number of female retinodontists.
The gender pay gap has also narrowed considerably over the past five years, with women working in retinotactic and retinogenic industries earning an average of $2.3m per year.
The gap in pay has become so large that, according in a survey of about 1,000 global retins, women earning between $1m and $5m per annum are almost three times more likely to be paid less than their male colleagues.
“There is an important gap, which is that the pay of a female retinal designer is much more than that of a male designer,” the survey found.
“A woman designer has to be very good in the retinas department, she has to perform a lot more, and yet she gets paid so little,” said a woman consultant.
“So it’s a very difficult job, and it’s very, very stressful.”
The Global Retinobotica Association, a trade association for the industry, said the pay gap between men and women has narrowed dramatically since the 1970s.
“The pay gap is about 40 per cent, but the number of women who want to do this job is much smaller,” said David Krummen, a senior vice-president at the association.
Retina experts are currently in the process of creating a new salary range for the sector, which will be announced at a conference later this year.
While women’s earning power has declined, the number working in the industry as a whole has risen.