'Sexism in medicine keeps women in junior positions'

Sexist attitudes and a macho work culture cause the absence of women from the most senior posts in medicine, a report said yesterday.

Sexist attitudes and a macho work culture cause the absence of women from the most senior posts in medicine, a report said yesterday.

Male hospital consultants and managers are accused of holding back the careers of female doctors by denying them flexible hours and insisting they work punishing rotas at nights and weekends that do not fit with family life, the report from the British Medical Association says. The situation is critical because medicine is becoming a female-dominated profession. More than 61 per cent of medical students are women, double the proportion of 30 years ago. On present trends, women doctors are expected to outnumber male colleagues by 2012. The proportion of women winning places at medical school has risen every year for the past eight years, and women already outnumber men among junior doctors by 53 per cent to 47 per cent.

But at the top of the profession, men still rule. Seventy-six per cent of hospital consultants are men, compared to 24 per cent who are women. Although this reflects the larger number of men who entered medical schools 30 years ago, women account for a higher proportion (37 per cent) of the lower-grade hospital doctors called associate specialists who are fully trained as are consultants but have not achieved the same professional status.

One woman doctor told the researchers: "I had to work for [a male consultant] who was completely opposed to women in medicine. He had been heard telling women medical students that they should be at home having children." Another said: "If men gave birth I think the medical profession would be structured somewhat differently."

The BMA is the voice of the medical profession, representing 120,000 doctors in the UK and abroad, and it launched the report, Career Barriers in Medicine, on the eve of its annual conference in Llandudno yesterday. The report finds doctors have been held back because of racism, homophobia, discrimination, disability and gender, and calls for zero tolerance of all discrimination.

More than seven in 10 consultants are white, yet among the lower-ranking associate specialist grade six in 10 are from ethnic minorities. George Rae, chair of the BMA's Equal Opportunities Committee, said: "The doctors who participated in this study have told us not enough is being done in the NHS to combat discrimination. It makes uncomfortable reading. It is not acceptable for anyone to think this is someone else's problem. We are all responsible for creating the environment and it is only through our collective and individual actions that we can start to move forward."

On women doctors, the report calls for a "dramatic evaluation of the structure of the medical profession" to end gender discrimination. But it adds: "Flexible training and work is an insufficient solution on its own. Other factors need to be addressed, such as work culture and stereotypes."

High-pressure specialities such as cardiology have the lowest proportion of women consultants, at 7 per cent, compared to those that require greater counselling skills, such as palliative medicine (for patients with terminal illnesses), where the proportion is 59 per cent. Among GPs leaving practices, 74 per cent of women cited "family reasons" compared to 16 per cent of men.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey
film
Sport
Bafetibis Gomis of Swansea City is stretchered off at White Hart Lane
football
News
Jerry Seinfeld Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
peopleSitcom star urges men to be more supportive of women than ever
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
Sport
footballLouis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United and Wenger can still spring a surprise
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Arts and Entertainment
World Book Day
News
people
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Life and Style
love + sex
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant - ACCA, ACA or ACMA - Construction Sector

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - PR and Broadcast - OTE £35,000

    £16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

    £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

    Recruitment Genius: Freelance AutoCAD Technician

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Freelance AutoCAD Technician is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot