Wolfson Building. Credit: Creative Commons

New undergraduate medical school head after gender discrimination claims

By Kimberley Mannion

Dr Margaret McMillan will take over from Professor JP Leach after he resigned at the beginning of November.

The University of Glasgow’s Undergraduate Medical School (UMS) has announced that Dr Margaret McMillan, a nephrologist, will take over as its head in the interim. Professor JP Leach, who held the post since 2016, resigned on 2 November to go on to work in a multinational pharmaceutical company. 

Following Professor Leach’s resignation, medical students were sent a letter from Professor Matthew R Walters, Head of the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing, stating that investigations into “gender-based bullying and discrimination” had “identified some behaviours which fell short of professional expectations”. 

Dr Margaret McMillan was announced as the new head in an email to students on 18 November. The email, seen by The Glasgow Guardian said “Inclusivity and diversity is a key part of our identity as a School and across the University. We are making progress with our action plan, have recently secured the services of an external consultancy firm and I will of course update you further as this plan is rolled out over the next few months.”

A Freedom of Information request (FOI) which asked for a breakdown of the medical school’s senior leadership team in the year 2021/22, however the University itself defines this, showed that it was made up entirely by white males. 

The same FOI found that as the level of seniority in jobs within the medical school decreases, the number of women filling the roles increases. By contrast, women make up the overwhelming majority of non-academic roles within the medical school, at 85%. 

The makeup of staff demographics in the medical school differs from that of the student body, which comprised 62.2% female students and 37.8% male studying a MBChB in the year 2021-22.

While no BAME medics occupied senior clinical roles, they made up 12% of academic roles within the medical school and 3% of non-academic roles. The University published a report into racism in 2021 which notes the “relative absence” of ethnic minorities in senior managerial and leadership roles across the institution more widely. 

A British Medical Association (BMA) report in 2021 found sexism to be prevalent in the NHS as a whole, with 74% of respondents to its survey stating they think sexism acts as a barrier to career progression.


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