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#4 Cracking the glass ceiling

To celebrate the Academy’s 20th birthday, we have put together a snapshot of 20 of our biggest impacts. To find out more about our 20th celebrations and our future plans, read this blog by our President Professor Sir Robert Lechler, and follow #AMS20 on social media.

The Academy would like to thank all our funders, partners and collaborators, without whom none of this work would be possible.


#4 Cracking the glass ceiling

“The Academy has tackled gender balance vigorously, increasing the proportion of women elected to the Fellowship, growing the number of women researchers speaking in the media and at high profile events, and offering bespoke support to women at critical times in their career. I do not know any other organisation that takes such tangible and positive actions to combat the important and significant issues surrounding women in science as the Academy.”

Dame Fiona Caldicott DBE FMedSci, National Data Guardian and Chair of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

The Academy has increased the prominence of women in medical science through a concerted effort over the last 20 years. Since 1998, the percentage of women Fellows elected to the Academy each year has increased from 7% to 33%, and in 2017/18 46% of speakers across all Academy events were women.

Recognising the challenges that women researchers face in the early stages of an independent research career, the Academy developed a flagship programme of mentorship, leadership training and bespoke career support. This programme, known as SUSTAIN, has been described as “invaluable” by participants and has recently secured funding for a further 3 cohorts, meaning that by 2021 we will have supported 100 women on their journey to break through the glass ceiling and move into leadership positions in science.

The Academy is committed to helping reach gender parity in media coverage of medical science. In 2014 the ratio of men to women experts commenting on medical news and current affairs programmes was 4:1 – today, the figure stands at around 2:1. Through an intensive media training package, we have supported 107 women to engage with the media, with participants going on to do media interviews as a result in high profile news outlets including The Times, BBC Today programme and Newsnight. Our work in this area won the 2018 Royal Society Athena Prize, awarded biannually to those who have contributed most to the advancement of diversity within their scientific communities.

The Academy is currently scoping how this work can be expanded to increase the visibility of Black, Asian and other non-white minority ethnic researchers in biomedical research.

To find out more about our work, visit our homepage. To support the work of the Academy, see our dedicated Support us webpage.


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