• Friday, December 02, 2022


Women, minority surgeons likely to be passed over for promotion, study reveals

FILE PHOTO: The proportion of men who had been promoted to consultant in NHS was 53.6 per cent, and for women it was 36.5 per cent (Pic credit: Christoper Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

A NEW study has revealed that women and people from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds in the surgical profession were more likely to be passed over for promotion or quit altogether, reported The Telegraph.

Analysis of more than 3,000 junior surgeons in the NHS in England found that in 2010, 57 per cent of junior surgeons were men. After a decade, this had increased to 63 per cent, as more women than men had dropped out of the career structure, the report added.

The proportion of men who had been promoted to consultant was 53.6 per cent, and for women it was 36.5 per cent, the data showed.

The research was presented at the British Academy of Management’s online annual conference. The raw data from the electronic record for NHS staff also compared promotion rates to consultants of white men compared with people from other backgrounds, between 2016 and 2020.

According to the study, black women were 42 per cent less likely to be promoted, while women of Indian and Pakistani origin were 28 per cent less likely to be promoted, followed by white women (21 per cent) and women of Chinese and south-east Asian ethnicity (14 per cent).

Black men were 27 per cent behind, Indian and Pakistani men 10 per cent, and men of Chinese and south-east Asian ethnicity six per cent.

The Telegraph report said that ethnic minority women accounted for 15 per cent of surgeons in 2020, but just eight per cent of trainees who were promoted to consultant were from this group.

The research also suggested that taking maternity leave of any length meant a seven per cent fewer chance of reaching consultant level by 2020.

The Royal College of Surgeons described the study as “deeply concerning”. While senior black doctors said the research matched their experiences and warned of a lack of support for minority doctors to pass the tests required to reach the best-paid ranks.

Prof Carol Woodhams of the University of Surrey Business School, who was one of the lead researchers, told The Telegraph: “Part of the reason for the high promotion rate of white men may be that there is an old boys’ network. Women and ethnic minority junior surgeons may have less access to important informal networks that bestow the sponsorship and patronage that is so important in securing a consultant post.

“The most striking finding is that even when Indian women, white women and black men conform to white male patterns of working, the progression gap is wide and, in some cases, very wide.”

While responding to the findings, Elizabeth Egbase, a black woman of Nigerian heritage who became a permanent consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in July, told The Guardian that improving the representation of black consultants was vital because “the workforce should represent the people we look after.”

Samantha Tross, who became the UK’s first black female orthopaedic consultant in 2005 having arrived from Guyana as a child, told The Guardian that hospitals should set targets for numbers of ethnic minority consultants.

An NHS spokesman said: “While more than four-fifths of NHS staff feel their organisation acts fairly with career progression, and the number of women and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds in senior surgical roles is increasing, there is more work to do – which is why the NHS is providing intensive support to local areas to increase the number of people from these groups working in senior roles.”

Eastern Eye

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