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Perceptions of gender equity and markers of achievement in a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC): A qualitative study.

By Lorna R Henderson, Rinita Dam, Syed Ghulam Sarwar Shah, Pavel V Ovseiko, Vasiliki Kiparoglou

Posted 31 Jul 2021
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.07.29.21261318

ABSTRACT Background The need to improve gender equity (GE) in academic medicine is well documented. Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs), partnerships between leading National Health Service (NHS) organisations and universities in England, conduct world-class translational research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). In 2011, eligibility for BRC funding was restricted to universities demonstrating sustained GE success recognised by the Athena SWAN Charter for Women in Science Silver awards. Despite this structural change, GE research in BRC settings is underdeveloped, yet critical to the acceleration of womens advancement and leadership. Objectives To explore both women's and men's perceptions of GE and current markers of achievement in a BRC setting. Methods Thematic analysis of data from two discrete research projects: 53 GE survey respondents free text comments (34 women, 16 men), and 16 semi structured interviews with women affiliated to the NIHR Oxford BRC. Results Four major themes emerged from the analysis: perceptions of the Athena Swan Charter for Women in Science (GE policy); views on monitoring GE in BRCs; views on current markers of achievement in academia and GE; and recommendations for actions to improve GE in BRC settings. Monitoring of GE in BRCs was deemed to be important, but complex. Participants felt current markers of achievement were not equitable to women as they did not take contextual factors into account such as maternity leave and caring responsibilities. BRC specific organisational policies and metrics are required to monitor and catalyse GE. Conclusions Markers of achievement for monitoring GE in BRCs should take into account contextual factors specific to BRCs and women's career progression and professional advancement. GE markers of achievement should be complimented with broader aspects of equality, diversity and inclusion.

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