MWF's Response to The Times Article - Sexual assault, crude banter — what it’s like to be a female surgeon


The Medical Women's Federation (MWF) exists to protect, support and advance all women in medicine and to improve health for all. The recent article in The Times about women in surgery highlighted harrowing reports of sexism, sexual harassment and assault and surgical training rotations being especially difficult for parents. Microaggressions and poor behaviours are not acceptable. These have a profound impact, limiting the progression of women doctors. The MWF has signed the BMA pledge to end sexism in medicine. More needs to be done so that every individual and every organisation understands how their actions influence the culture.

The article also highlights that surgical training rotations still make a historical assumption of having a "wife" at home, with long commutes, intense work patterns changed at short notice and inadequate flexibility. The MWF is keen to work with others to improve training, using experience from across the specialities. Expectations and rotations must change so that doctors who are parents can work, learn and have family time, allowing them to thrive and to be retained within the profession.

Prof Scarlett McNally, President of MWF and an orthopaedic surgeon, said: "It is sad that women doctors still face such obstacles to working and training especially when they are parents. There is ample evidence that women have a worse experience, despite being in the majority at medical school. Change is needed to get the best out of all doctors, to help future patients. The MWF can help with networks, support and campaigning across organisations."

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