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Renewal of academic psychiatry without addressing gender equity will render it Jurassic rather than endangered

Galbally, M.ORCID: 0000-0003-3909-1918, Eggleston, K., Northwood, K., Siskind, D., Berk, M., Suetani, S., Gill, N., O’Connor, N., Harvey, S.B. and Every-Palmer, S. (2022) Renewal of academic psychiatry without addressing gender equity will render it Jurassic rather than endangered. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry .

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While two editorials have raised concerns about the decline in Australian academic psychiatry, for a genuine rejuvenation to ever occur, we will need to re-examine how women can be better included in this important endeavour. While attainment of fellowship has reached gender parity, academic psychiatry has disappointingly lagged, with 80% of its senior leadership roles across Australia and New Zealand still held by men, with a similar situation in the United Kingdom and the United States as well as many other countries. Encouraging women into academic psychiatry is not only critical to progress as a profession but also will help address the current blindness to sex differences in biological psychiatry, as well the social impact of restrictive gender norms and the effects of gender-based violence on mental health. This potentially creates opportunities for significant gains and insights into mental disorders. However, addressing the barriers for women in academia requires tackling the entrenched disparities across salaries, grant funding, publications, teaching responsibilities, keynote invitations and academic promotions alongside the gender-based microaggressions, harassment and tokenism reported by many of our female academics. Many women must grapple with not just a ‘second shift’ but a ‘third shift’, making the burden of an academic career unreasonable and burnout more likely. Addressing this is no easy task. The varied research in academic medicine reveals no quick fixes, although promoting gender equity brings significant potential benefits. Areas such as academic psychiatry need to recognise our community’s growing discomfort with workplaces that choose to maintain status quo. Gender equity must be a critical part of any quest to revive this important area of practice for our profession.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Health Futures Institute
Publisher: Sage
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