The BMA has today launched a new pledge to be signed up to by organisations across the healthcare sector, aimed at ending sexism in the medical profession. Already signed by NHS Employers, NHS Providers, the Medical Women’s Federation, numerous Royal Medical Colleges and other representative organisations, the pledge represents a commitment by organisations to enact real change in the way they tackle sexism.
In 2021 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 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.
The BMA today calls on as many organisations as possible to join the current signatories in agreeing to and promoting these steps for progress.
Dr Latifa Patel, BMA equality lead, said:
“The BMA is proud to lead this pledge for healthcare organisations, uniting them in acting on sexism in medicine. From the moment they enter medicine, medical students and doctors face gender-based discrimination: from structural barriers that impact their career progression to sexist comments from their colleagues and patients.
“Sexism harms us all, not just holding back individuals, but affecting the care those individuals can offer to patients. This pledge and accompanying ten goals are a framework that will encourage health organisations to eradicate sexism in all its complexity – especially keeping in mind how characteristics such as race, religion, disability and gender identity can intersect with sexism.
“We are glad to have the support of so many vital healthcare organisations at the outset and we are looking forward to that number growing as time goes on. By signing up, they are making an important commitment to moving towards a world where no doctor or medical student faces discrimination because of their gender.”
Dr Chelcie Jewitt, founder of Surviving in Scrubs, said:
“Since starting the Surviving in Scrubs campaign with my colleague Dr Becky Cox last year, we have been overwhelmed with the stories submitted by women facing every kind of sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment and even sexual assault in the NHS. Every story is heart-breaking – not only does this kind of endless demeaning of female doctors make their working days so much less bearable, but it is holding back careers, reducing confidence, and wasting so much potential.
“The BMA’s Ending Sexism in Medicine pledge is a way forward – Trusts need to commit not just to stamping out harassment with clear policies and codes of conduct, but also to addressing the myriad ways women are held back by stereotypes in education or poor support of childcare and women’s health. We are bringing as many healthcare organisations as we can together in one joint agreement: that no one in healthcare should be held back because of their gender.”
Notes to editors
The full pledge can be found here.
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
The full list of initial signatories includes:
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin
British Dental Association
British Islamic Medical Association
Faculty in Sports and Exercise Medicine
Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (Women in Intensive Care Medicine)
Faculty of Public Health
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health
Medical Women's Federation
Muslim Doctors Association
NHS Confederation Women in Leadership Network
Royal College of Anaesthetists
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Royal College of Surgeons
Women in Surgery Forum at RCS England
Royal College of Emergency Medicine
Royal College of Psychiatrists
Department of Health (Northern Ireland)
Surviving in Scrubs
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.