100 Years of the Medical Women’s Federation: The Past, Present and Future

This week, we welcome Sarah McLoughlin of the Medical Women’s Federation, to tell us more about their work and events to mark their centenary next month:

Recently released stats by the GMC reveal that in 2017, 46% of registered doctors in the UK are now women and, with women also making up 55% of all medical students, it seems that now really is the time to be a woman in medicine. 2017 is also the year that the Medical Women’s Federation (MWF) celebrates its centenary. Beginning in 1917, at a time when male doctors outnumbered female 15 to 1, the Medical Women’s Federation was established to provide a voice for women in the profession, who had previously struggled to be heard.

It all began in London when 9 women doctors came together, and vocal in their frustration that no organisation spoke for them, they decided to create a federation of women doctors representing the female workforce throughout the UK. The founding president of MWF, Dr Jane Walker was herself a pioneer of the time, being only the 45th woman to be included on the General Medical Register. Jane Walker steered MWF in the push for equality, campaigning on issues such as the employment of married women, menstruation, child welfare, and venereal diseases.

Dr Jane Walker.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

100 years later a lot has changed for women in medicine. Although we may celebrate 50% representation within the profession, medicine still shows marked inequality within the specialities and amongst senior levels. Currently, only 34% of consultants are women and within the surgery specialty this drops to just 12%, and women still only make up 24% of professors. Today, MWF recognises the struggles that women still face and ensures that the push for parity continues to be at the forefront of the conversation. Alongside medical royal colleges and government committees, MWF works to develop best practice to make sure the voices of women in medicine are heard.

Sarah McLoughlin of MWF

With a diverse membership ranging from medical students to the retired, MWF is passionate about supporting women from the beginning of their careers through to the end, and does this through its twice yearly national conferences, the publication of their in house journal, ‘Medical Woman’ and also offering a range of grants and prizes supporting personal and  professional development.

To celebrate 100 years of medical women, MWF is holding a week of special centenary celebrations in London from May 10th-13th 2017. The celebrations, which are open to all, include a variety of lectures, workshop, drinks receptions and dinners all on the theme “100 Years of Medical Women: The Past, Present and Future”. The events will celebrate the progress that has been made over the past 100 years, discuss the landscape of medicine today and look forward to the future with optimism. You can see the full programme of events for the centenary here.

Website: www.medicalwomensfederation.org.uk
Twitter: @MedicalWomenUK
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MedWomen