What can Fellows do to support women in the biomedical workforce?

A report exploring what Fellows can do to support women in the biomedical workforce has been published by the Academy.

On 12 November 2015 the Academy of Medical Sciences held a meeting for women Fellows to come together to discuss the question ‘What can Fellows do to support women in the biomedical workforce?’. The event was held using an open space format, which allows groups to self-organise and collaborate around a question of shared concern. The day began with an opening circle at which participants called sessions on the topics they wanted to discuss which included the following:

  • Women’s attitudes
  • Recruitment to senior positions
  • Ambition limitation by social pressure
  • Deciding whether and when to have children
  • How do we get more women Fellows?
  • Networking - the pub?
  • Fellows' careers are not over
  • "Calm Down Dear!” - dealing with sexist comments
  • Does language matter?
  • What happens when women numerically dominate?

The report presents a summary of the discussions from all of the sessions written by those who attended the event. Click here to download a copy of the report.

Many themes and actions for the Academy arose at the meeting, which were relevant to the Fellowship as a whole and not just specific to women Fellows. Emerging themes are as follows:

  • Participants reported many benefits of coming together as a group of women to engage in conversation about the issue. They were also keen to expand discussions wider to include early career researchers.
  • A number of areas of training were identified that the Academy could promote at all levels, particularly unconscious bias training and supporting networking skills. Similar models to the women Fellows media training could be offered, where the Academy provides training independent of Fellows institutions or funders.
  • The Academy should provide more opportunities for peer to peer support among its Fellows as well as practical mechanisms to link and make new connections among Fellows.
  • The Academy should lead by example and share good practice in the field.
  • The Academy should provide leadership and authority on how best to maintaining a positive work life balance in academic careers. The Academy is well positioned to develop an evidence base through its Fellowship.

The Academy's Officers and Council a currently developing a work programme to take the recommendations forward.


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