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Logo of bmjThis ArticleThe BMJ
BMJ. 2007 June 30; 334(7608): 1343.
PMCID: PMC1906658
BMA annual representative meeting, Torquay, 25 June to 29 June

BMA calls for end of discrimination against women in medical academia

BMA representatives this week called for an end to the “insidious discrimination” in medical schools that results in female staff earning significantly less than their male colleagues and in a dearth of women in top positions. Just 11% of all medical professors are women.

Council member Anita Holdcroft said that even after allowing for age, skills, and seniority she earned £5000 (€7400; $10 000) less than her male counterparts.

Figures showed that medicine had the highest sex imbalance of all scientific professions, she told members. Many women preferred to work part time rather than full time after maternity leave, but this restricted their opportunities further.

Women academics were hit by a “double whammy,” she said. “They are disadvantaged by the gender pay gap and then by employment opportunities for promotion.”

Bhupinda Sandhu, a member of the BMA council, proposing the motion, said that despite the fact that half of all medical students were women, seven out of 11 medical schools had no female professors at all.

She reminded members of the European Commission's recommendation that women should make up at least 40% of all clinical academic staff. The BMA must work with the government, universities, and other institutions to eliminate this insidious discrimination and ensure that the service was properly resourced, she said.

But Philip Belcher, from the BMA in Scotland, said that the sex imbalance was the near inevitable consequence not of discrimination but of part time working, which was “disastrous” for pay and promotion. “What we should really be proposing is more support for female doctors to work full time,” he said.

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