Sheffield, Supporting Women in Medicine (SWiM)

Sheffield, Supporting Women in Medicine aims to promote culture change within the NHS by enabling women to achieve their individual goals through an inspiring and supportive community. We are collaborating with The University of Sheffield Medical school in developing a national ‘Athena SWAN - like’ charter to be used within healthcare.

Professor Chris Ham + SWiMSheffield, Supporting Women in Medicine (SWiM) is a network that was launched in 2013 by a group of doctors and academics from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS trust and the University of Sheffield. Designed to inspire, support and motivate women in healthcare, empowering them to achieve their individual goals. By doing so we hope to promote a culture change that will benefit all those working within healthcare.

Encouragingly there are more women than ever working within the NHS, and for more than 25 years there has been at least equal numbers of female medical students. Despite this there is still a long way to go in terms of female representation at senior leadership levels within the NHS. Time alone has not addressed this and we must ensure that we are trying to understand the complexities that some women appear to face, whilst also encouraging, supporting and recognising the talents of the entire workforce to ensure equal representation at senior levels.

Offering a combination of biannual networking events alongside a comprehensive member database covering most specialties across medicine, healthcare and academia, SWiM have set out to provide a positive forum from which its members can seek the support they need. The network is open to both men and women involved in healthcare and is supported by Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at The University of Sheffield, Health Education Yorkshire & Humber (HEYH) and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Most recently we have developed a mentoring scheme offered to doctors at all stages of their careers, this is offered initially as a pilot scheme but will be expanded if successful. We are also working very closely with the Athena SWAN team at the Medical School to develop a national ‘Athena SWAN -like’ charter for the NHS. With the success of the Athena SWAN charter in universities across the country we felt it was time that we did something in the NHS to address the longstanding cultural bias that is clearly stopping some women from entering certain specialities and representing the workforce as clinical leaders. With careful collaboration and help from the The University of Sheffield, HEYH and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals we hope to make this dream a reality. After a successful meeting with Dame Sally Davis (Chief Medical Officer) SWiM are set to take on this challenge.