Submit an Abstract for the Autumn Conference 2019 in London

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06 August 2019

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When: Friday 1st November 2019, from 9:00am-5:00pm

Location: BMA House, Tavistock Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1H 9JP

We are welcoming abstract submissions for Oral and Poster Presentation at the Autumn Conference 2019: "Working Together: Overcoming gender bias in medicine".  Please click here to find out more about the conference.

Oral abstracts are requested for the conference session “Towards empowerment: Experiences of gender inequalities in the workplace”. The abstract presentation will highlight a personal example of inequality in the medical profession, with a focus on what happened and how you overcame it.

Please click here to download the Oral abstract submission form.

Poster abstracts are requested on the conference title “Working Together: Overcoming gender bias in medicine”, a subject of interest related to women doctors and their patients, or on one of the following categories:

  • Patient and doctor health and wellbeing

  • Education and training

  • Innovations, audit and research, or quality improvement projects

  • Management and leadership

Please click here to download the Poster abstract submission form.

Please email completed abstract submissions to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The deadline for abstract submission is Sunday 8th September 2019 at midnight.

Katherine Branson Essay Prize Winner 2019

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02 August 2019

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- Winner: Amelle Ra, Medical Student, University of Liverpool

“I believe most conscientiously and thoroughly that women as a body are sexually, constitutionally and mentally unfit for the hard-incessant toil, and for the heavy responsibilities of general surgical practice. At the same time, I believe as thoroughly that there is a branch of our profession – midwifery – to which they might be admitted in a subordinate position as a rule.”1

- Dr Bennett, the Lancet, 1870

With the Lancet dedicating an entire issue to ‘Advancing Women in Science, Medicine, and Global Health’2 last month, the prospect of women becoming doctors has drastically (and thankfully) changed since 1870. In the last 200 years, women have leaped from being denied entry to medical schools to making up the majority of medical graduates in the UK.3 This transformation can be largely attributed to the courageous and committed women in medicine who refused to conform within an entirely patriarchal society.4 Pioneers such as Elizabeth Blackwell, Sophia Jex-Blake and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, despite the oppression they faced, established the London School of Medicine for Women.5 They were also important figures of the Association of Registered Medical Women, which later developed into the Medical Women’s Federation.6 Without doubt, they blazed a trail for women in medicine.

Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, medical women continued to ascend. For instance, Sheila Sherlock, famously known as ‘the founder of hepatology’ and the UK’s first female Professor of Medicine,7 showed that women can penetrate the glass ceiling. Clare Marx, an advocate for women in surgery, became the first-ever female president of the Royal College of Surgeons and the first woman chair of the General Medical Council.8 And in 2010, Sally Davies became the first female Chief Medical Officer for England.9 Despite such tremendous achievements, medicine is still a man’s world, especially at the top. There remains a 15% gender pay gap10 and in 2017, the best-paid male consultant earned two-and-a-half times that of the female equivalent.11 Equality in our profession has not truly been achieved. I aver that over the next five years, two major issues- the lack of quality flexible working opportunities and the gender imbalance in senior leadership positions- should be the key focus of endeavours to continue women’s success and progress.

Women’s talent and contributions ought to be evenly distributed throughout all fields of medicine. Improving the quality and availability of flexible working, as well as challenging the attached stigma, has the huge potential to attract and retain women in male dominated specialties. Research shows that compared to men, more women choose family-friendly specialties with better work-flexibility and opt for less than full-time training (LTFT).12,13 Undoubtedly, the outdated perception that men should be breadwinners and women child-carers must be challenged. However, when individual women wish to take on childcaring, quality flexible working opportunities, including LTFT, should be available to facilitate their career progression and advancement to leadership positions. Concerningly, LTFT remains disjointed and difficult to arrange.14-16 LTFT doctors often have limited learning opportunities and access to research and auditing.14,15 There is also a widespread stereotype that ‘part-time doctors are part-time committed’, devaluing their role at work.14,17 In a recent survey of 876 LTFT surgeons, over half experienced undermining behaviour from colleagues as a result of undertaking LTFT.14 The medical workforce is becoming feminised and the current issues concerning flexible working must be addressed. Doctors, especially LTFT doctors, require support and encouragement to thrive in their profession.

Another area of concern is that a disproportionate number of females to males continue to hold senior roles in medicine, which fuels the gender pay gap. To become gender balanced, NHS boards in England require another 500 women.18 Only 24% of trust medical directors are female19 despite women having represented 50% of medical students since 1991.4 Only 26% of CCG GP leads are female although there are more female general practitioners than males.19 Very few women represent key medico-political roles. And in academic medicine, the Deech Report found that the number of women in senior positions remains disproportionately low, with only 12% of clinical professors on university contracts being women.4 Having female leaders has shown to shift culture, improve organisational performance, and help organisations to reflect the population they serve.18-22 As the NHS experiences a myriad of difficulties, it is now more essential than ever to form a diverse set of leaders and utilise the wealth of talent that women can offer.

As Henrietta Bowden-Jones asserted: ‘This is a special time for women in medicine in the UK as so many of the Royal Colleges and other organisations have female leaders’.23 To continue our progress and success, over the next five years, we must keep pushing forward by actively tackling the lack of quality flexible working opportunities and women’s under-representation in senior leadership roles. In support of International Women’s Day, we must remember that balance certainly is better for everyone.


1. Hilary Bourdillon. Women as Healers: A history of women and medicine. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

2. The Lancet. Advancing Women in Science, Medicine, and Global Health. 9 February 2019. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

3. Department of Health. Women doctors: making a difference. London: Department of Health, 2009.

4. Jefferson L, Bloor K, Maynard A. Women in medicine: historical perspectives and recent trends. Br Med Bull 2015;114:5-15 doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldv007

5. University of Bristol. A short biography of Elizabeth Blackwell. 2019. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

6. Dorothy Ward, The Medical Women’s Federation and MWIA. 2009. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

7. Royal College of Physicians. Women in medicine: Professor Dame Sheila Sherlock. 2017. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

8. General Medical Council. New Chair of the General Medical Council. 2018. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

9.Royal College of Physicians. Women in medicine: Sally Davies and Margaret Turner-Warwick. 2017. (accessed 6 March 2019)

10. Royal College of Physicians. RCP president Professor Jane Dacre to lead NHS pay gap review. 2018. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

11. BBC News. Top women doctors lose out in NHS pay stakes. 2018. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

12. Royal College of Physicians. Women and medicine: The Future. 2009. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

13. British Medical Association. Less than full time guidance. 2015. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

14. Harries R, Gokani V, Smitham P, Fitzgerald J. Less than full-time training in surgery: a cross-sectional study evaluating the accessibility and experiences of flexible training in the surgical trainee workforce. BMJ Open. 2016;6:e010136 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010136

15. Joint Committee on Surgical Training. Less Than Full Time (LTFT Training in Surgery: JCST Policy Statement. 2017. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

16. Health Education England. Approaches to Flexible Working- Evidence from the individual specialties. 2017. Available:'%20Feedback%20on%20Flexibility_0.pdf  (accessed 6 March 2019)

17. British Medical Association and Medical Women’s Federation. The Pay Gap for Women in Medicine and Academic Medicine. 2009. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

18. NHS Improvement. NHS Women on Boards: 50:50 by 2020. 2017. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

19. The King’s Fund. Advancing women in medicine: how can we move from rhetoric to action? 2015. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

20. NHS Clinical Commissioners. Women in clinical commissioning leadership. 2015. Available: (accessed 6 March 2019)

21. Shannon G, Jansen M, Williams K, Caceres C. Gender equality in science, medicine, and global health: where are we now and why does it matter? The Lancet 2019;393(10171)560-569 DOI:

22. Coe I. Feminism is for everybody. The Lancet 2019;393(10171)493 DOI:

23. Womanthology. Keep pushing forward: Why the Medical Women’s Federation Centenary year is special time that presents a unique opportunity for women in medicine. 2017 Available:  (accessed 6 March 2019)

MWF Honorary Membership 2019 - Nominations Now Open!

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24 July 2019

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Do you know a male or female doctor who has rendered outstanding service to women's health, women doctors and/or the aims and values of the Medical Women’s Federation?

The Medical Women’s Federation (MWF) is delighted to announce the launch of Honorary Membership to recognise doctors who have demonstrated a unique ability to transfer the MWF vision into living action.

In past years exceptional female colleagues were appointed by MWF but this is the first time in 102 years that exceptional male colleagues will be able to become Honorary members. This new development is in line with our President’s mission to bring the vision for MWF into the more modern and inclusive medical world we now live in.

Commenting on the launch of the Honorary Membership, MWF President Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones said:

“For the first time in our 102-year history, the Medical Women’s Federation is proud to launch this initiative to recognise the important service of those who are working to transfer the MWF vision into action in the medical profession.”

Honorary Members may be nominated by any member of the MWF and shall be elected by Council. The award will honour the positive impact of both male and female doctors who actively promote the training and development of women doctors in the medical profession. The nominee’s curriculum vitae will serve as supporting evidence. Honorary Members are not required to pay an annual membership fee and are not entitled to vote or hold office. Honorary Membership may be granted for a term of three years, subject to annual review.

For further information: download the MWF Honorary Member nomination guide and form.

Nominations may be submitted through Tuesday 3rd of September 2019. The nominator is responsible for ensuring that the nomination is completed by the deadline. Nominations that are incomplete after the deadline will not be considered. Please note that this nomination isn't complete until the Central Office receives a copy of the nominee's CV via email.

Please submit completed nomination forms to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Deadline for nominations: Tuesday 3rd September 2019


100th anniversary logo

The Medical Women's Federation (MWF) was founded in 1917 and is today the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK.

The MWF maintains a commitment to supporting women doctors in reaching their full potential by providing networking, leadership and mentoring opportunities, as well as campaigning for quality flexible working opportunities in the profession.

For further information please contact:

Medical Women's Federation, Tavistock House North, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9HX.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Medical Women's Federation
Tavistock House North,
Tavistock Square, London,
Tel: 020 7387 7765