Hospital Dr News

Sexism is widespread and under reported in NHS medicine, survey shows

Nine out of ten women doctors in the UK have experienced sexism at work with 42% feeling they could not report it.

That’s the findings of a BMA survey which shows they also suffer patronising comments, being judged on their appearance, and overlooked in their career progression.  

84% of nearly 2,500 respondents said they felt there was an issue of sexism in the medical profession.

Other findings, which are to be published in the Sexism in Medicine report, show:

• 61% of women respondents felt they were discouraged to work in a particular specialty because of their gender with 39% going on to decide not to work in that speciality

• 70% of women respondents felt that their clinical ability had been doubted or undervalued because of their gender, compared to 4% of men respondents

• 54% of all respondents thought that sexism acts as a barrier to career progression

Dr Latifa Patel, acting chair of the BMA’s representative body, said: “It is appalling that we are seeing these statistics, hearing these stories and talking about these inequalities in 2021.

“The report makes for shocking reading and there is no place for sexism in society. If we want to eradicate it, we all have a part to play. It’s going to take a concerted effort, and it won’t be quick to fix, but sexism must stop.”

She praised Dr Chelcie Jewitt, a member of the BMA, for starting the campaign.

Dr Jewitt, the junior doctor whose personal experiences were the catalyst for this report, explains why she was compelled to start a campaign.

“I felt humiliated and belittled by the way I was spoken to and even though I knew I was tired after a gruelling set of night shifts, I couldn’t shake the feeling of upset and anger,” she said.

Women’s health strategy

Danny Mortimer, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation and chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Our own research through our Health and Care Women Leaders Network has found women working across the NHS may not feel sufficiently able to share personal concerns with managers and may experience discrimination and bullying.

“We support the Women Leaders Network call for national NHS and professional leaders to develop a Women’s Health Strategy specifically for the NHS workforce, to ensure issues such as those identified by this survey from the BMA are decisively tackled, so that women can work in safe and fair workplaces.”

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