A survey to explore new markers of achievement to assess and monitor gender equity in an NIHR Biomedical Research Centre: A two-factor model
Henderson LR., Shah SGS., Ovseiko P., Dam R., Buchan AM., McShane H., Kiparoglou V.
<jats:p>Background: The underrepresentation of women in academic medicine at senior level and in leadership positions is well documented. In the United Kingdom, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) announced that eligibility for funding for Biomedical Research Centres (BRCs) required at least Silver award status of the Athena SWAN Charter. However, the evidence base for monitoring gender equity (GE) in BRCs is underdeveloped. Methods: An exploratory online survey distributed to an entire population of NIHR Oxford BRC affiliates (N=683) who ranked the importance of 13 markers of GE on a five point Likert scale. Data were summarised using frequencies and descriptive statistics. Interrelationships between the markers and underlying latent dimensions (factors) were determined by exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. Thematic analysis was used to analyse open-ended comments. Results: The response rate was 36% (243 respondents). Respondents were more frequently female (55%, n=133), aged 41-50 years (33%, n=81), investigators (33%, n=81) and had been affiliated with the BRC for 2-7 years (39.5%, n=96). Participants ranked BRC senior leadership roles and organisational policies on gender equity, as very important, 58% (n=141) and 57% (n=139) respectively. The top two markers ranked as very important by female participants were organisational policies (64.7%, n=86/133) and recruitment and retention (60.9%, n=81/133), whereas male participants ranked leadership development (52.1%, n=50/96) and BRC senior leadership roles (50%, n=48/96) as being very important. The factor analyses showed two distinct latent dimensions: organisational markers and individual markers of GE in BRCs. Open ended comments suggested three key areas of actions: monitoring and benchmarking, organisational support for those with childcare responsibilities, and leadership and Institutional support for GE. Conclusions: The findings suggest a two-factor model of markers of achievement for GE with organisational and individual dimensions. Implementation and sustainability of gender equity requires commitment at senior leadership and organisational policy level.</jats:p>