HLAxLords Women at the Forefront of Leadership and Change
“A woman is like a tea bag – you never know how strongshe is until she gets in hot water” – Eleanor Roosevelt. I am passionate and determined to help support and promote the advancement of the personal and professional development of women in medicine and to help improve the health of women and their families in society.
The Medical Women’s Federation (MWF) is the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK and I am the MWF Junior Doctor Representative for the London region. I am delighted to have been chosen by the Health Leadership Academy to speak on the panel in House of Lords on the topic ‘Women in Leadership.’
My mother is my inspiration. She worked in the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) programme to deliver prevention work in the community, offering information, support and advice services available to assist women and men who have experienced violence. She also organised the annual White Ribbon Campaign event, part of the global movement to end male violence against women and raising awareness in schools and workplaces of violence against women and the need for eradication.
In times of change and modern leadership, equality and gender opportunity remain topics of fervid debate. There is some way to go to achieve gender balanced leadership teams that are truly representative of the populations they serve. I am determined and passionate to ensure we don’t lose momentum in recognising and rewarding female leaders across the health and social care landscape and helping face the challenges of modern leadership.
I held various leadership roles as a Foundation Doctor including sitting on the UKFPO Board as the Health Education East of England Representative, RCGP National Co-Chair for the Student and Foundation Doctor Committee and the National Foundation Doctor Representative for the Curriculum Delivery Group. As a result of my work involved in policy and academic improvements for Junior Doctors, I was invited to 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister and Health Secretary to celebrate NHS70 years.
I signed up to the Women Speakers in Healthcare database as balanced gender representation at healthcare events is essential in avoiding “m-anels” and overcoming gender bias in medicine. The medical field was male dominated for a very long-time resulting in leaders in health care industry being defined by male examples and images. Woman are judged not only in their technical ability and achievements but also on how well their performance and image match the expectation of what a female and a leader should be. Women now represent an overwhelming majority of the healthcare workforce, yet they are significantly underrepresented in senior leadership positions. MWF is a key stakeholder in the gender pay gap review and we will be helping to develop implementable and actionable recommendations to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s independent review of how to eliminate the current gender pay gap in the medical profession.
There are many challenges and issues that arise during the early years of medical training. Women doctors particularly face challenges about choice of specialty, having a family and less-than-full-time training. Leadership is only one aspect of debate for women in healthcare and other campaigns the MWF are a part of include the eradication of female genital mutilation, the petition Abort67 to stop harassing women outside abortion clinics and involvement in the working group for the folic acid fortification consultation.
Now, as we approach the House of Lords panel day, the tea brews…let’s make the mindset of leadership gender equality a reality.
Devina Maru is a GP Speciality Trainee and Medical Women’s Federation Junior Doctor Representative for London