More than a third of female cardiologists polled in a UK survey on discrimination and sexism in the profession have reported receiving unwanted sexual comments, attention or advances from a colleague. The findings of the survey were published online this month in BMJ: Heart.
Authored by Shareen Kaur Jaijee, Imperial College London, London, UK and colleagues, the research sought to compare the frequency with which male and female cardiologists experience sexism within their profession.
Participating cardiologists were asked to undertake a validated questionnaire measuring experiences of sexism and sexual harassment. The survey was distributed online to 890 UK consultant cardiologists between March and May 2018. In total, 174 cardiologists completed the survey (24% female; 76% male).
Findings showed that 61.9% of female cardiologists had experienced discrimination of some kind, usually relating to gender and parenting, compared with 19.7% of male cardiologists. Furthermore, 35.7% of female cardiologists experienced unwanted sexual comments, attention or advances from a colleague, compared with just 6.1% of male cardiologists.
The survey’s results suggest that sexual harassment affected the professional confidence of female cardiologists more than it affected the confidence of male cardiologists (42.9% vs. 3%), including confidence with colleagues (38% vs. 10.6%) and patients (23.9% vs 4.6%). A third of female cardiologists (33.3%) felt that sexism hampered opportunities for professional advancement, compared with just 2.3% of male cardiologists.
Summing up the findings, the study’s authors write: “Female cardiologists in the UK experience more sexism and sexual harassment than male cardiologists. Sexism impacts the career progression and professional confidence of female cardiologists more, including their confidence when working with patients and colleagues. Future research is urgently needed to test interventions against sexism in cardiology and to protect the welfare of female cardiologists at work.”