Authenticated user menu

27 February 2023
Total views

FMLM Fellowship: closing the gender gap

woman stands with a superhero shadow

An update for International Women's Day

The FMLM Fellowship Gender Gap working group was brought together by FMLM and Dr Sarah Schofield with a collective aim to brainstorm action in narrowing the gender imbalance of people applying for and ultimately, being awarded the FMLM Fellowship accolade.

Dr Sarah Schofield was a GP with the NHS for 30 years
and although now retired, pioneered the leadership standards of FMLM throughout her career and colleagues, especially when training the next generation of doctors.
As previous Chair of West Hampshire CCG and a founding Senior Fellow of FMLM, she was invited by FMLM in the summer of 2022 to join the judging panel for the latest round of Fellowship applicants.

Initially she happened to notice that everyone else on the panel were men, followed by the realisation that all the applications she was reading over were also submitted by men. On a closer look at the overall numbers of FMLM awarded Fellows of those listed, 164 identified as male compared to 78 female.
This chart displays the breakdown of gender comparison within the Fellowship categories (July 2022):

The information was also shared with her that FMLM Fellowship would soon be a badge of leadership excellence and so a strong recommendation when applying for senior medical roles. Dr Schofield realised that if women are not currently applying at the same rate as men for the award that they would already be at a disadvantage and in the long term this would mean female role models in medical leadership would be reduced.

Professor Dame Jane Dacre and the psychology of language

Dr Sarah Schofield reached out to Professor Dame Jane Dacre who is a pioneer in awareness of gender inequality throughout the NHS and UK healthcare. She chairs the gender pay gap implementation advisory group and in another breakthrough for women in medicine, Jane Dacre is the third woman in 500 years to have been elected as President of the Royal College of Physicians.
Jane spoke to Sarah about studies into the psychology of both language[1] and job descriptions affecting the ratio of men and women who apply for roles advertised. For example, these studies show that women will read a job description[2] and feel that if they do not meet all of the criteria points that they should not waste their time applying whereas men, on the whole, would recognise two or three attributes in the required skills and believe that they have enough to apply. 

Read more about Professor Dame Jane Dacre’s research here: Leadership and Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine by Jane Dacre – The official blog of BMJ Leader [3]

Building the working group.

During a FMLM discussion on membership, Dr Sarah Schofield expressed her observations and put herself forward to form a working group. The aim of the group would be to discuss and make happen actions needed to tackle this gender gap apparent in the Fellowship numbers, before it started to really affect the gender ratio in senior roles throughout UK healthcare. FMLM put out the call, 22 women and 1 man accepted the invitation and on July 27 2022 the first working group met virtually.

Every member had been requested beforehand to answer a set of questions so that opinions and information could be gathered and then summarised to spark the debate and move from conversation to action quicker.

Many common opinions were shared, including:


The first discussion was positive and the enthusiasm to instigate change was felt strongly.
The group also made comparisons against the FMLM Clinical Fellow Scheme Portfolio which in itself, receives an excellent balance of women and men applicants every year.

Some actions summarised post discussion, with aim to be delegated among members of the working group: 

It was an excellent start to an ambitious project, but Dr Sarah Schofield did bring the point home that reaching the final outcome may not be felt for years but that we must start with small steps to build the path to our final goal. Since then the working group have met twice more and the developments keep on turning.

Hopefully the journey and successes, no matter how small, of this newly formed working group will continue to inspire and the active ambition will spread outwards to other organisations, encouraging other marginalised and minority groups to be bold in making change happen.

The next working group is due to be held in springtime, 2023. 
If you would like to be involved in the Fellowship Gender Gap working group by submitting suggestions or be kept up to date on developments, please email fellowship [at]


[1] Gender Bias and Sexism in Language. Michela Menegatti & Monica Rubini.
Published online: 26 September, 2017

[2] New Report: Women Apply to Fewer Jobs Than Men, But Are More Likely to Get Hired ( Maria Ignatova. Published online: 5 March, 2019

[3] Leadership and Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine. Professor Dame Jane Dacre DBE, MD, FRCP Published online: 8 March, 2022

Read more about Fellowship and start your application or nominate a colleague.

 or  Register to add a comment


Array ( [0] => sitewide [1] => advert_external_leaderboard [2] => not_front_desktop [3] => advert_external_wideskyscraper [4] => attachments [5] => comments [6] => comments_login_prompt [7] => jobs_content_pages [8] => node-social-accelerators [9] => node_news [10] => related_content [11] => twitter_feed_rhs [12] => member_attachments_for_non_members [13] => advert_internal_desktop )