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Women and girls everywhere still face gender discrimination, many overcoming barriers and prejudice, aiming for equality. This work is not done. It is ongoing. Gendered structures persist. Equity and diversity to me means a non-binary approach, learning from the past that offers the potential for envisaging the future. The arts and humanities support creative thinking that leads to innovation which is much needed if the future is not to repeat the past. Replicating structures based in binary oppositions may support a fractious equality but will not facilitate equity nor support a complex future.

I’m including a link to the UK Royal College of Physicians project of Women in Medicine where contemporary high achieving women doctors share their profiles and those of the women who have inspired them. I encourage you to read about the different women in this great project here. If you’d like to add other profiles by reply to this blog that would be great and we will create a new one with these. There is not enough diversity here. This is medicine not healthcare and there are still issues and hierarchies in nursing, midwifery and social care in respect of women and BAME. This link discusses some of the gendered issues located in care in the evolution of women in nursing in the US and applicable in other countries while the Royal College of Nursing link examines the value and status of the profession within a gender nexus. As an almost exclusively female profession, midwifery struggles against different ways of knowing (Pendleton, 2019) but it also one where mortality and poor outcomes for BAME women patients is an issue being addressed by the UK government and reported in the Nursing Times (link). This needs to be considered in the wider context of 20-40% of BAME midwifery and nursing professionals as the ‘largest collective professional group’ in healthcare where leadership strategies are needed. A further range of resources on BAME perspectives from the Covid 19 frontline can be accessed here. Indeed and further, while women doctors often are paid less than male colleagues, it is carers who are some of the most underpaid professionals and unacknowledged individuals throughout the world, with informal care directly associated with poverty (link).

With all of this in mind it is important also to consider the medical professions AAMC call for more gender non-binary doctors, since in 2018 in the US only 0.7% of graduating medical students identified as trans or non-binary (here). That is against 2017 GLAAD populations figures in the US general population of 20% of millennials, 12% of Generation X and 7% of baby boomers (here). We lag behind other diversity considerations in the UK, where more is needed to support disabled doctors. Women intersect with this as a population and on International Women’s Day, I would like to highlight the inspirational work of AMH colleague Abha Ketarpal in the respect (link). So, there are increasingly complex issues around appropriate representation throughout the medical and healthcare workforce that need to reflect the rich diversity of the patient population and patient life experiences especially within particular specialisms. And at this point we should perhaps also bear in mind, funding, equity, specialisms and female patients; a host of gender health inequalities requiring critical consideration. The message here is that gender equality requires consideration of intersections of equity.

I hope this has given some food for thought about professional and workforce issues and the culture of the practices of medicine and healthcare today. And finally, I would ask on International Women’s Day for readers’ thoughts to go out towards all women and girls in the war in Ukraine and to trans people currently in Russia positioned as ‘a crime against humanity’.

Jennifer Patterson, President.

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