International Women's Day Resources
Celebrating International Women’s Day
Dr Riya Elizabeth George
The first International Women’s Day was in 1911 and was supported by over one million people. Today it belongs to everyone.
Maya Angelou, the American poet once said, “each time a woman stands up for herself without knowing it possibly, without claiming it, she stands up for all women.” We often hear similar sentiments from female academics in their aspirations to increase representation and leadership opportunities for women in medicine and healthcare.
Today’s research and statistics demonstrate the great progress that has been achieved in the area of gender parity in medical education, however it still shows that representation, career progression and leadership roles of female colleagues do not match that of male colleagues1&2. Women are often more likely to be burdened with a host of gender norms related to career, family, and their role as future healthcare professionals. These norms are often manifestations of larger societal scripts about the role of men and women and their place at work, in the family and the household.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we recognise the achievements and success of a diverse group of women but also acknowledge the distinct challenges women still experience. In doing so, we have provided an array of different resources to support and inspire other women.
Dr. Riya George
The feminist scholar, Kate Millet argued that everyday experiences are gendered. If we take this insight seriously, we need to attend to how medicine and healthcare education uphold specific practices and principles that may impact women and men differently.
Despite the increase in female medical and healthcare students, gender disparities in senior faculty ranks persist. Vaprio and colleagues (2020) found contrasting gendered narratives when exploring the experiences of women and men in attaining full professorship in medical education. As they describe “a man’s personal life fact (e.g., having children) is a woman’s personal dilemma that must be carefully navigated in her professional life. A man’s professional inevitability (e.g., being promoted) is a woman’s tenuous negotiation through social and system level labyrinths.” (pp.590).
Whilst these are the findings of one study and the issues are more nuanced and complex than described above, these narratives echo experiences still faced by women today in trying to advance their career whilst balancing the many ‘hats’ they wear (often at the same time!). Climbing the career ladder is often embellished with obstacles, and nowadays there are more unconventional, non-traditional ways of reaching the top. As a young, woman of colour, I could count on one hand the number of senior role models I knew that physically looked like me. ‘Looking and acting the part’ was always challenging, given I had very few examples to go by.
If you have ever found yourself in the same predicament or struggling for a different reason, hopefully the career development advice and top tips from the diverse group of women below may help and inspire you.
Career Development Top Tips
Every day this month we will be sharing each woman’s top tips for career development on Twitter, join us by sharing your top tips using the hastag #ASMETopTips.
One of the ways ASME’s mission; to advance scholarship in medical education is achieved is through its awards. ASME offers an assortment of awards and achieving these can help in gaining early-career recognition and promotion.
ASME Podcast Special Episode
Definitions of success can vary among individuals and these meanings can play a role in the career stories of different women.
In the podcast below, I explore the dynamic and contrasting career journeys of three inspiring women: Professor Minal Singh; a professor of medical education and a consultant dermatologist, Dr Devina Maru; a general practitioner trainee and national medical director’s clinical fellow who was recently awarded the Asian Women of Achievement Awards in 2021 and Miss Neely Mozawala; a specialist diabetic podiatrist and founder/ UK national campaigner of @NoHungryNHSStaff.
In this candid and authentic conversation, these individuals share parts of the career stories, the successes, the challenges they have experienced, learning lessons and their advice for other women in navigating and achieving the career that’s right for you. Their stories provide an insight into their personal experiences of discrimination when selecting specialities dominated by men, they discuss the pressures they faced when making career choices more amenable to a work-life balance and also consider issues relevant to one’s mental health and wellbeing.
Wiley Special Issue
In honour of today’s celebrations and calls to action, ASME has collaborated with the WILEY to create a special virtual issue showcasing a collection of the latest research and scholarship about women from the journals Medical Education and The Clinical Teacher.
Many of the issues already touched upon require more thought and reflection and this virtual issue intends to support you in developing greater knowledge about the experiences and narratives of women in medicine and healthcare. The selection of papers included may be viewed as a dipstick for evaluating progress towards gender parity and may offer insight into the areas where further research and scholarship is still required. From female medical students to academic professors, a range of different research papers have been included.
Morrison et al (2020) paper titled Double Jeopardy: Black and Female in Medicine resonates with my personal challenges of trying to ascertain which of my protected characteristics contributes to stereotypical views others may have of me.
Many individuals and groups advocating for gender equality are increasingly urging men to become allies and research shows having strong male allies can help women in feeling a better sense of belonging3. The President of ASME, Professor Derek Gallen and the Director from the Membership, Dr Jim Price explain why International Women’s Day is important to them and acknowledge the female role models who have shaped and inspired their careers. Professor Chloe Orkin, the President of the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF) also shares her perspectives and provides further information on how the MWF can support the career development of women and the interesting events they have planned for this month.
Gender awareness, values, attitudes, and knowledge cannot be imposed. These realities must be considered, experienced, developed and owned. Gender inequalities remain and arguably cannot be divorced from its history, which needs to be acknowledged and considered in light of today’s issues facing women. We hope the different resources in this communication piece have given you food for thought on this subject and inspire you to learn more. On behalf of ASME, I wish you all a very happy International Women’s Day!
Professor Derek Gallen
In 1977 I went to medical school at University College Hospital, London. This was the first time in their history that they had an equal split of males and females and they were rightly proud of that fact. We know that numbers of female students to medicine increased over the years and peaked in the low 70%. It has been a slower task to get substantive representation in leading roles at a national level. I believe we are, however, past the tipping point and we now see female medical role models in every organisation. I have been very fortunate to work with the current and past female chairs of ASME who have made a substantial contribution to medical education and serve as an inspiration to all.
Dr Jim Price
Last year, I was elected to ASME’s Board as the Director from the Membership, and on behalf of ‘the membership’, I know I can offer our full support for this initiative. Many women, both cis and trans, have been important and inspirational to me during my career in medical education, frequently offering a more intuitive and reflective approach to teaching and research than my male counterparts. I could name many, but there is, for me, no one more inspirational than Professor Deborah Bowman of SGUL (a past member of ASME’s Board). If you don’t know her – please look her up and admire her achievements. She is a role model for every female (as well as male) medical educator.
Professor Chloe Orkin, President of the Medical Women’s Federation
International Women’s Day is important to me because much of my research concerns gender and the inclusion of women, especially pregnant and lactating women into clinical trials. We must move away from the dogma that treats women as vessels and adopts a mono-focus on the safety of the unborn child at the expense of maternal health. Both matter. Women need to be protected through and not from research. As the President of the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF), I strongly believe in lifting as I climb, listen to my MWF Podcast on leadership here to better understand my perspectives. The MWF is a supportive community which will help boost your CV, confidence and career through to retirement!
Learn more about ASME's EDI Strategy
As part of ASME’s Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion strategy we actively aim to start and continue meaningful conversations about diversity issues in medicine and healthcare. Throughout the year we will be exploring how we can celebrate and support individuals from culturally diverse, under-represented and marginalised backgrounds.
Leadership Courses and Training for Women
Are you interested in leadership? Do you want to develop your skills and knowledge? Here are some links below to upcoming leadership courses and training for women.
- Senior Women’s Leadership Development Programme
- Springboard Women’s Development Programme
- UNIque – designed for women researchers at the early career stage
- Royal College of Physicians - Emerging Women Leaders Programme
- Bendels MHK, Müller R, Brueggmann D, Groneberg DA. Gender disparities in high-quality research revealed by Nature Index journals. PLoS One. 2018;13(1):e0189136.
- Sebo P, Maisonneuve H, Fournier JP. Gender gap in research: a bibliometric study of published articles in primary health care and general internal medicine. Fam Pract. 2020;37(3):325-331.
- Gibbs T. The Covid-19 pandemic: Provoking thought and encouraging change. Med Teacher. 2020;42(7):738-740.