CM – Women and ethnic minorities are « severely disadvantaged » when they reach the top spot among surgeons


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September 1, 2021

by Tony Trueman, British Academy of Management

Ethnic minority women and surgeons who want to reach the highest rank in their profession face « serious disadvantages » and a glass ceiling, new research shows.

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Even if their careers are similar to male surgeons, they are less likely to reach the top tier of consultant, heard the British Academy of Management’s annual online conference today.

Three academics analyzed data from 3,402 NHS – Junior Surgeons in England from 2009 to 2010, looking at how many had advanced to the advisory level by 2020.

The three are: Professor Carol Woodhams from the University of Surrey Business School with Ira Parnerkar from Queen Mary University and Mukunda Sharma from Exoduspoint Capital LLC.

The raw data from the electronic personnel file for NHS employees showed that promotion rates for women and ethnic minorities were lower than those for white men. Compared to white men’s promotion rates to consultant from 2016–2020:

The statistics also showed that in 2010 57% of junior surgeons were men. By 2020 it was 63% men, as more women than men had left the career structure and the proportion of men promoted to consultants was 53.6% and women 36.5%.

Ethnic minority women made up 15% of surgeons in 2020, but only 8% of trainees who were promoted to medical specialists belonged to this group.

Professor Woodhams adjusted the raw data to include surgeons of similar ages and backgrounds to compare who had worked a similar number of hours in training.

She found that maternity leave of any length means a 7 percentage point lower chance of reaching counseling level by 2020. Any other type of career break, such as 8 percentage points.

Even comparing groups with the same number of training hours and the same number of career breaks, women and black men were less likely to be promoted to consultants.

« The most striking finding is that even when Indian women, white women and black men conform to white male work patterns, the progress gap is large and in some cases very large, » said Professor Woodhams.

« This is an objective one Evidence that disparity towards various groups is ingrained in surgery and a new progressive milieu in the NHS and wider society has not yet translated into concrete and progressive outcomes.

« Women, and especially non-white women, are underrepresented in the senior ranks of consultants, which prima facie supports the existence of a glass ceiling.

 » Black male surgeons are severely disadvantaged. Black men have long Hours of work, taking very few part-time or career breaks, and usually working in most of the elite sub-specialties of surgery. Non-white trainees are less likely to be promoted to counselors in hospitals with a high percentage of white men, she said.

One reason for the high rate of white male promotion could be an old boys network, she said. to get a consultant position. « 

She said her research quantified the impact of previous surveys in which ei n third of prospective surgeons said they had experienced bullying, undermining and harassment by a consultant in most cases.

« In an elite profession, surgery is arguably the most elite specialty. She is competitive, pressured, and receives the highest reward, but she is consistently associated with a bullying culture that is particularly hostile to women.  »

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