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Women in Clinical Academic Medicine 
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The following outlines the findings of A Survey of Staffing Levels of Medical Clinical Academics in UK Medical Schools as at July 2013, published by the Medical Schools Council in 2014.

  • There were 3,133 FTE clinical academics (3,453 individuals) employed by the 35 UK medical schools.
  • In 2013, 28% of clinical academics were women, compared with 26% in 2011 and 21% in 2004. Just 17% of Professors are women, although this is an increase from 11% in 2004; 32% of Senior Lecturers and 42% of Lecturers are women.
  • The headcount number of women has increased every year since 2004. There has been a 40% increase in the number of female clinical academics since 2004 (from 680 to 953), compared with a 2% decline in the number of male clinical academics (from 2,566 to 2,508).
  • 33% of clinical academics held a national Clinical Excellence Award or equivalent; 38% of male clinical academics and 19% of female clinical academics.

Extract from Medical Schools Council (2014) A Survey of Staffing Levels of Medical Clinical Academics in UK Medical schools as at 31 July 2013

(The full document is viewable here.)


In UK universities, 44.5% of academics are women(ref 1), with proportionately fewer women at senior academic grades: 20% of Professors and 47% of academics at non-Professorial grades (across all subjects) are female, and in Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) subjects 15.6% of Professors are women, with 42.8% women at other academic grades(ref 2). In academic medicine in 2013, 17% of Professors are women and 32% of Senior Lecturers and 42% of Lecturers are women; 28% overall.

Figure 14 illustrates a year-on-year increase in both the number and proportion of female clinical academics in UK medical schools since 2004. There has been a 40% increase in the number of female clinical academics between 2004 and 2013 (+273), compared with a 3% decrease in the number of men (-66). The positive change in the number of women is most apparent at Lecturer grade, with an increase of 91 individuals, +52%, since 2004. This is coupled with a 20% increase at Senior Lecturer grade (76 individuals), and an 82% increase at Professorial grade (106 individuals) between 2004 and 2013.

Consistent with trends across the Higher Education sector, the proportion of female staff in post falls with age. Of academic staff aged 35 and under, 42% are female, while of those aged over 56, only 17% are female. The profile of clinical academics by age broadly relates to academic grade, consistent with patterns of promotion and retirement; however, as Figure 15 illustrates, more men than women in each age group hold senior academic appointments.

Data presented in Figure 1 highlighted the increase of Clinical Lecturers representing new individuals entering academic medicine. However, the age profile of clinical academics is increasing, suggesting that the new pipeline of clinical academics is not yet sufficient to compensate for natural progression and those in older age groups. Figure 16 reports the average age of clinicians holding appointments at each academic grade, with an increase of around three years across the clinical academic workforce between 2004–2013.

A total of 19% of the clinical academic workforce is reported as working Less Than Full Time (LTFT); 34% of women and 13% of men. This is lower than the wider HE sector (42% women and 13% men; 34% overall)(ref 3). The patterns are consistent, however, with female academics more likely than male academics to be working part-time in every age group and at each academic grade. Figure 17 highlights that whilst only a small proportion of Professors of either gender work part-time (13% women and 11% men), this changes to more than 40% of women at Reader/ Senior Lecturer and Lecturer grades.

Overall, 28% of clinical academics are women; however, analysis by specialty in Figure 18(ref  4 and 5) reveals a range of 57% in Medical Education (although note that this is a small specialty of only 15 FTE) and 45% in General Practice (of 221 FTE) to just 13% in Surgery (of 309 FTE) and 18% in Anaesthetics (of 54 FTE). This is consistent with the pattern of NHS clinicians by gender and specialty, and with the findings of previous research by the Royal College of Physicians that women tend to choose ‘people-oriented’ and ‘plannable’ specialties, as they may be influenced more by personal factors17.

The number of women entering medical school in 2013 was around 55% of the 7,900 intake to medical degree programmes. Over the last ten years, there have been slightly more women than men admitted into the first year of the medical degree programme, peaking at 61% in 2003.In 1980/8118, just 1,620 women (40% of total intake) were admitted into medicine, and the gender profile of clinical academics is in part a cohort effect of the profile of the wider medical workforce. There are real obstacles to women in academic medicine, as highlighted by the MSC in its evidence submitted to the House of Lords Enquiry in September 201319, including i) family responsibilities and the impact of pregnancy and childcare, ii) a lack of female role-models, and iii) indirect discrimination through a gender-biased conception of merit. If women’s and men’s career profiles are to be similar, a number of challenges remain to be addressed. Many medical schools have been commended for support to women in both clinical and non-clinical work at medical school through the Athena SWAN Awards programme. Seventeen departments within medical schools and faculties are now recognised with a Bronze Award and nine with a Silver Award. The 2011 NIHR announcement linking future funding with the achievement of Silver Athena SWAN status is a welcome catalyst for yet further change.


  1. Higher Education Statistics Agency (2014) Staff in Higher Education Institutions 2012/13
  2. Higher Education Statistics Agency (2009) Press Release 131
  3. Higher Education Statistics Agency (2014) Staff in Higher Education Institutions 2012/13
  4. Figure adapted from Figure 6 of Department of Health (2009) Women Doctors: Making a Difference
  5. Of clinical academics working in Other/ non-specified specialties, 45.5% are women
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