Over 90% of female doctors ‘experienced sexism at work’

The British Medical Association said the statistics are 'appalling'.

Over 90% of female doctors ‘experienced sexism at work’ iStock

More than 90% of female doctors have reported experiencing sexism at work – but just a quarter of those who either went through it or witnessed it have raised the issue – a survey has suggested.

The British Medical Association said the statistics are “appalling” while their report into the problem makes for “shocking” reading.

Their survey of more than 2000 doctors found that 84% of all respondents felt there was an issue of sexism in the medical profession and almost three-quarters believe sexism acts as a barrier to career progression.

More than a quarter (28%) of men who took part in the survey said they have or had more opportunities during training because of their gender, in comparison to just 1% of women respondents.

While 9% of women respondents said they had never experienced sexism at work over the past two years, the figure for men was 51%.

They survey found that 44% of women and 34% of men had experienced or witnessed an issue of sexism but did not raise it, while 26% of women and 19% of men had raised it.

Some 61% of women said they felt discouraged to work in a particular specialty because of their gender while 70% felt their clinical ability had been doubted or undervalued because of their gender.

More than half (56%) of female doctors said they had received unwanted verbal conduct relating to their gender and almost a third (31%) experienced unwanted physical conduct in the workplace.

The equivalent figures for men were 28% and 23% respectively.

The survey and report was prompted by the experiences of a junior doctor Chelcie Jewitt, who said she had been “completely ignored” by a consultant in favour of a male colleague.

She said: “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.

“Two weeks after a consultant completely ignored my contributions in favour of a male doctor while I was handing over after a busy shift, I knew I couldn’t just let it lie.”

Dr Latifa Patel, the 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.”

In a joint statement, Dr Vishal Sharma, the union’s consultants committee chair, and Dr Sarah Hallett, junior doctors committee chair, said: “The results of this survey are deeply concerning and show how far we – as a society – have yet to go to stamp out sexism in the workplace once and for all.”

The BMA said it will develop recommendations to address the issues raised in the report.

– 2458 BMA members responded to the email survey in March. Of these, 82% of respondents were female and 16% were male while the rest were non-binary, preferred not to say or preferred to self-describe.

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