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An expert international workshop met at Wadham College to review the factors that both facilitate and obstruct women’s advancement and leadership in academic medicine.

Joined by Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department of Health, researchers discussed preliminary findings of their systematic review in order to create an evidence base and to formulate an agenda for future research and action to accelerate women’s advancement and leadership in academic medicine.

Under the initiative of Professor Alastair Buchan, Dean of the Medical School and Head of the Medical Sciences Division, the research group – including Dr Pavel Ovseiko, Dr Laurel Edmunds, Dr Bríd Cronin, Dr Peggy Frith, and Professor Helen Lawton Smith – are conducting a systematic review of the barriers to and facilitators of women’s advancement and leadership in academic medicine. 
 
The workshop discussed six major topics: 
•    gender inequity and discrimination;
•    productivity; 
•    work-life balance; 
•    professional development and leadership skills; 
•    mentoring and role models; and 
•    culture and climate. 

The participants also heard the results of empirical research conducted by some of the world’s leading researchers in this area. Stanford University’s Professor Henry Etzkowitz, talked about historical relations between scientific status and gender, using examples from his recent studies and his book “Athena Unbound: The Advancement of Women in Science and Technology”. Professor Michael Goldacre, University of Oxford, presented findings from the UK Medical Careers Research Group regarding careers of women in medicine. Professor Linda Pololi, from Brandeis University, shared approaches from the US National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine “C – Change.” C-Change aims to foster a culture in academic medicine that helps all faculty and trainees realise their potential, as well as enhancing diversity among those in leadership positions in academic medicine.
 
Other external participants included Professor Naomi Fulop, Professor of Health and Health Policy, University College London; Dr Jan Bogg, Athena SWAN Advisor to the UK Medical Schools Council, Liverpool University; and Ms Giovanna Declich, Executive Director of the Italian Assembly of Women for Development and the Struggle against Social Exclusion, Rome. Other participants from Oxford included Dr Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Personnel & Equality), and Fellow of Wadham College; Professor Alison Simmons, NIHR Professor of Gastroenterology; Professor Sasha Shepperd, Professor of Health Services Research and Editor for the Cochrane EPOC Review Group; Professor Kia Nobre, Director of Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity; Ms Adrienne Hopkins, Equality Advisor (Athena SWAN & Gender), Equality and Diversity Unit; and Dr Denise Best, Academic Clinical Careers Manager, Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School.

All agreed to work together on the evidence base to accelerate women’s advancement and leadership in academic medicine. They also agreed to establish a collaboration with the US National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine “C – Change” in order to evaluate and enhance the culture of academic medicine in the UK. 

Professor Alastair Buchan said: "I would like to change the way we think about culture change, so that we are actually doing something and getting right, rather than just do it to get the Athena SWAN Silver.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, Department of Health said: “It is fantastic that here in Oxford, you are taking this seriously and not just doing a tick box exercise.”

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, welcomed the participants at a drinks reception. He said “We are hopeful that the evidence base that we building and the collaboration that we are establishing will enable us to find ways to further advance women to leadership roles within academic medicine.”

The workshop on 19th February was sponsored by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre and hosted by Dr Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Personnel & Equality), and Fellow of Wadham College.