Saturday 16 November 2019
MiP national officer Claire Pullar: “the climate for women leaders in the NHS is, if anything, getting harsher at the moment”.
Following an MiP Summit group discussion on women in leadership, delegates agreed to set up an MiP women’s network to share experiences and support women managers in developing their careers.
“We want to draw on everyone’s experience of the challenges we face as women leaders,” said MiP national officer Claire Pullar, who led the session. She warned that “the climate for women leaders in the NHS is, if anything, getting harsher at the moment”. By way of example, she cited statistics showing that older women were far more likely to lose their jobs during organisational change than older male colleagues.
Delegates drew on their own experiences to describe some of the barriers women leaders still face in the NHS. One trend noted by several delegates was for women leaders to be given new responsibilities, only to find they were denied the support or pay that male colleagues had received when doing the same job previously.
“I think we as women members and managers have a degree of responsibility to change that cultural behaviour,” said one delegate. “An MiP network, to share that experience and come up with solutions, would be a valuable extra support.”
Several delegates argued that the NHS needed to give more support to carers. “The expectations from the employer are often unreasonable,” said one delegate. “As a mother, there are times when you have to drop everything, and employers often don’t respond well to that. Women need to feel supported in terms of being able to do that.”
One delegate described how her employers refused to permit any senior managerial job to be done part time. “I have one senior colleague who’s just had a baby and she’s been told there’s no chance—you have to come back full time or not at all.”
Pullar said employers often downgraded women’s contributions because of their caring responsibilities. “We have people who are nervous—or actually scared—about starting a family because of the effect on their career.”
Among the other issues which the group suggested that the new network should tackle were bullying and harassment—which disproportionately affects women staff—along with the lack of support for women going through menopause, and the difficulties they faced discussing it with male colleagues.
We expect MiP’s new women’s network to start work in Spring 2020. If you’d like to get involved, contact Mercedes Broadbent at MiP head office.