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Leading the way with women

This International Women’s Day the RCP is celebrating the role of women in leadership and highlighting some of the steps it is taking to support and encourage women to become healthcare leaders here in the UK and globally.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘breaking the bias’ and having more women in leadership roles is an important way of achieving this and ensuring that change will endure.

The RCP Education team has produced a video featuring some of the mentors for its successful Emerging Women Leaders programme, developed in 2018. This year-long programme (comprising five teaching days) was created to address the under-representation of women medical doctors in leadership roles.

You can hear what the programme means to Dr Jo Szram, Dr Emma Vaux and Dr Olwen Williams and find out more about it here. A limited number of funded spaces will be available for the 2022 cohort.

In addition, RCP Global is working with the Education team to launch a pilot Global Women Leaders Programme to address the imbalance in leadership opportunities for women in healthcare globally. Women represent more than 70% of the global healthcare workforce but fewer than 5% are senior leaders in low and middle income countries and fewer than 25% in high income countries. You can read more about this here.

Dr Mumtaz Patel, vice president for RCP Global, said: “Historically, women who have been identified as sitting at the top of organisations have been known to change culture, improve organisational performance and patient care.”

When it comes to its own leadership, the RCP has been working hard to positively improve gender balance and is pleased to mark progress. Now:

12/23 officers and senior officers are women

4/7 executive directors are women

5/8 censors (who oversee the organisation’s education, examinations and medical standards work) are women

2/7 international officers are women

This represents a substantial improvement on 10 years ago when women held only two out of six senior officer, one out of six censor and one out of eleven other officer roles.

The RCP is continuing to work to implement the wide-ranging recommendations of the independent Summerskill review, published in 2020, on equality, diversity and inclusion at the RCP.

One significant action was the publication last year of a policy for communications and events. This includes a commitment to achieve a balanced programme of speakers with respect to gender, ethnicity and other protected characteristics, and also to ensure that the opportunity presented by speaking at a conference or event is afforded to people from under-represented sections of the medical community, as well as those in the early part of their career. The new policy also encourages greater diversity of voice throughout all RCP communications and publications and, in a further bid to promote inclusion, champions a proactive @ThisDoctorCan social media campaign that has so far shared the stories of over 40 diverse role models.