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Original research
Sexism experienced by consultant cardiologists in the United Kingdom
  1. Shareen Kaur Jaijee1,2,
  2. Caroline Kamau-Mitchell3,
  3. Ghada W Mikhail1,4,
  4. Cara Hendry5
  1. 1Cardiology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2MRC, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3Organisational Psychology, Birkbeck University of London, London, UK
  4. 4Cardiology, Imperial College London, London, UK
  5. 5Cardiology, Manchester Royal Infirmary, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Shareen Kaur Jaijee, Cardiology, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, London, UK; shareen.k.jaijee{at}


Objectives The aims were to compare the frequency with which male and female cardiologists experience sexism and to explore the types of sexism experienced in cardiology.

Methods A validated questionnaire measuring experiences of sexism and sexual harassment was distributed online to 890 UK consultant cardiologists between March and May 2018. χ2 tests and pairwise comparisons with a Bonferroni correction for multiple analyses compared the experiences of male and female cardiologists.

Results 174 cardiologists completed the survey (24% female; 76% male). The survey showed that 61.9% of female cardiologists have experienced discrimination of any kind, mostly related to gender and parenting, compared with 19.7% of male cardiologists. 35.7% of female cardiologists experienced unwanted sexual comments, attention or advances from a superior or colleague, compared with 6.1% of male cardiologists. Sexual harassment affected the professional confidence of female cardiologists more than it affected the confidence of male cardiologists (42.9% vs 3.0%), including confidence with colleagues (38% vs 10.6%) and patients (23.9% vs 4.6%). 33.3% of female cardiologists felt that sexism hampered opportunities for professional advancement, compared with 2.3% of male cardiologists.

Conclusion Female cardiologists in the UK experience more sexism and sexual harassment than male cardiologists. Sexism impacts the career progression and professional confidence of female cardiologists more, including their confidence when working with patients and colleagues. Future research is urgently needed to test interventions against sexism in cardiology and to protect the welfare of female cardiologists at work.

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  • Contributors SKJ: literature search, study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, writing. CH: study design, manuscript write-up, manuscript review. GWM: study design, manuscript review. CK: study design, manuscript write-up and approval of the final draft.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was obtained from Birkbeck, University of London’s Department of Organisational Psychology Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon reasonable request.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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