It can sometimes be really difficult to put yourself forward for something if you do not see people like you represented within it.
Whether it is a local social club, a particular training pathway you would like to specialise in, or taking a more active role in a massive member organisation such as the BMA – if you do not see people like yourself as part of the fabric of that group then you may think ‘well, that’s not really for me, is it?’ or ‘they don’t represent me, and I won’t be elected’.
Think about this: women make up a greater percentage of those entering our profession at medical school and they make up a significant proportion of the profession our BMA represents, and yet in almost two centuries I am only the fourth woman to be at this level of the BMA.
Women are integral to how this organisation delivers on behalf of our membership in its policymaking and committee structures and its staffing team. They are front and centre in our work on equality, diversity and inclusion. Work such as addressing the gender pay gap in medicine, sexism in medicine and challenging workplace culture on the menopause. Yet women are still less likely to take an active role in the BMA.
I think we can do better; we need to do better. We need to amplify how women are crucial to representing our members so we can inspire women members to get involved and shape the future of this organisation. And this is where you come in.
To mark International Women’s Day 2022, we are launching the Voices of Women campaign that will help spotlight the stories, experiences and diversity of our members at all levels, from grassroots local negotiating committees and regional representatives to our national committees.
We are calling on members – doctors and medical students – to tell us their experiences of being a woman in medicine and – most importantly – a woman active in the BMA. What have been the high points for you and what are you most proud of? What changes could be made to make the BMA and the NHS better for women? What would you say to women thinking of taking a more active role in the BMA and, indeed, the workplace?
By sharing your story as part of the Voices of Women campaign, we hope it will encourage more women to get involved with the work of BMA and empower them in their professional lives. You never know, your voice may be the one that makes a difference.
To learn more about how you can get involved with the Voices of Women campaign, contact [email protected]
Thank you and Happy International Women’s Day!
Dr Latifa Patel is interim chair of the BMA representative body