‘Culture of prejudice’ hinders women in medicine

Women academics in medical education and research are being kept from achieving senior positions by a ‘culture of prejudice’, according to the British Medical Association(BMA).

A BMA report, Women in Academic Medicine: Challenges and Issues, found that depsite making up 60 per cent of medical student intake, there are no female heads of medical schools, and only a handful of women in senior academic positions.

Appointment and promotion is often based on rigid traditional lines, discriminating against many women and anyone who has to work more flexibly, the study said.

Funding systems for universities also discriminate against women, according to the report. Departments are awarded money and ratings based on staff research output.

The research claims that those who have less time for research, such as part-timers, or those who spend more time teaching – many of them women – are seen as less productive, and find their careers blocked as a result.

Anita Holdcroft, deputy chair of the BMA’s Medical Academic Staff Committee, said it was shocking that academic medicine still widely fosters a culture of prejudice.

“No-one has even collected information on how many women are working in medical academia, or what positions they hold, which shows just what a low priority it has been to ensure women are being treated fairly,” she said.

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