Encouraging female doctors to apply for CEAs (clinical excellence awards) could help close the gender pay gap in medicine, the head of the national independent review into the issue has said.
Review head and University College of London professor of medical education Dame Jane Dacre told the Women in Academic Medicine Conference this month that CEAs were emerging as ‘one of the biggest problems’.
Other emerging causes include bullying in the workplace, she added. ‘It makes people feel less confident in asking for things that they should have as rights.’
‘One of the main contributors to date, as far as I can tell, to the large gender pay gap in medicine is the clinical excellence awards,’ she told the conference.
‘And one of the biggest problems in the delivery of those clinical excellence awards is in clinical academia,’ she added.
‘That is because the highest level of clinical excellence awards tends to go to male academics.’
Official figures show that female and male doctors’ success rate in CEA applications are closely matched but that almost four times as many men apply.
In 2016, 207 women applied for national CEAs compared to 930 men. The success rates for men was 27 per cent compared with 26 per cent for women.
Dame Jane stressed that these were emerging findings and that research for the review had not yet completed.
The review is working with a team of experts in gender pay gap research and economists to crunch large Government data sets to pinpoint the factors behind the gender pay gap.
It is also gathering qualitative evidence and expects to send out a large-scale survey to around 40 per cent of all practising doctors in late November.
Its research is due be completed by the end of the year and its recommendations are expected to be published by April 2019.
The pay gap review was set up by the Government partly in response to an outcry over an official ‘equality impact assessment’ of the new junior doctors’ contract which warned it may ‘adversely impact’ women.
Dame Jane said the review could act as a ‘huge’ lever to drive through changes recommended in a 2009 report by Baroness Deech, Women doctors: making a difference, which had yet to be implemented.
Doctors should resist claims that closing the gender pay gap was ‘hard to do’ in an ‘under-funded, under-doctored and overstretched NHS’, she warned. ‘That’s a convenient way of saying, put it on the too difficult pile.’
BMA consultants committee deputy chair Helen Fidler said she supported local efforts to encourage female doctors to apply for CEAs.
As the chair of the local negotiating committee in Lewisham she is seeking to draw up a plan with her hospital trust to do just that.
‘The reasons for the smaller numbers of female doctors applying for CEAs are not entirely clear,’ she said.
‘We think it may be that women only apply when they think their work is superb, while men just give it a shot.
‘However, we don’t know for certain – that’s why it’s so important that doctors give evidence to the review by taking part in the survey in November.’
‘Female doctors are also more likely to be working part-time and it can be less easy to get away to external events, especially if there are issues accessing childcare,’ she added.
‘We know from our recent survey on job planning that female consultants from black and minority ethnic backgrounds felt the most bullied. As doctors we often don’t recognise undermining behaviour. We just realise that we feel bad.’