The BMA has launched a new pledge aimed at ending sexism in the medical profession.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists is a signatory, along with several Medical Royal Colleges, NHS Employers, NHS Providers, the Medical Women’s Federation, and other representative organisations. The pledge represents a commitment by organisations to enact real change in the way they tackle sexism.
In 2022 the BMA worked with Dr Chelcie Jewitt co-founder of the Surviving in Scrubs campaign, to look into sexism in medicine after she had gathered an array of testimony of sexist behaviour from women doctors across the NHS. The subsequent survey found that a shocking 91% of women doctor respondents in the UK had experienced sexism at work with 42% feeling they could not report it.
This ten-point pledge is about turning those findings into progress. Organisations are signing up to work collaboratively on ten goals, from ending sexual harassment to supporting women’s health in the workplace, which together form a roadmap toward a profession free of discrimination based on gender.
Dr Adrian James, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said:
“Women account for almost half (45%) of psychiatrists registered in the UK; however, they face barriers at every turn, simply by virtue of their gender.
“It is important that institutions tackle barriers to career progression, so that women doctors have the opportunity to build the careers they deserve and boost retention of the medical workforce. To do this, healthcare systems must ensure that women can work in supportive environments where focus is given to removing inequalities.
"We know that a failure to address sexist behaviours, or discrimination of any sort, can lead to profound distress and negative mental wellbeing, as well as a risk to patient safety. But effective solutions must take an institution-wide approach.
“As a College, we are opposed to any form of prejudice and firmly believe that everyone should be treated fairly, which is why we have signed up to the BMA's pledge and encourage others to do the same.
“We wholeheartedly agree with the goals of the pledge, which our members have also told us are key to challenging sexism in medicine, and will be doing all we can to embed these actions, alongside our own Equality Action Plan.”
The goals are:
- Eliminate sexism from career progression opportunities
- End sexual harassment in medicine
- Ensure that there are multiple channels for reporting sexual harassment and sexism
- Promote the benefits of gender diversity in medicine
- Guarantee safe and supportive environments for pregnant doctors and medical students
- Remove the detrimental impact that having children and other caring responsibilities can have on career progression and work-life balance
- Actively challenge gender stereotypes in medicine
- Increase the visibility and voices of women
- Employees in more senior roles to recognise gender bias in the workplace
- Support women’s health