Gender climate in Indian oncology: National survey report

Jyoti Bajpai, Sharada Mailankody, Reena Nair, Shylasree T Surappa, Sudeep Gupta, Kumar Prabhash, Shripad S. Banavali, Hemant Malhotra, Gouri Shankar Bhattacharyya, Smruti Bk, Govind Babu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction There is evidence of under-representation of women in leadership roles and publications in oncology. However, there is little knowledge about their perceptions of professional environment, unique challenges and opportunities compared with male counterparts. The problem is more prominent in lower-income and middle-income countries like India and merits exploration. Materials and methods A survey, â € Exploratory Study on the Challenges of Female Oncologists in India', was conducted among oncology professionals. We included questions on demography, working team details, role at work, perceived challenges for advancement of career, gender-related values brought into the team and the measures for improvement of gender disparity. Lead authorship data were collected from two Indian oncology journals. Results Of the 324 respondents, 198 (61.1%) were women. Majority of the respondents were medical oncologists (46.3%), ≤45 years old (69.4%) and working in universities and corporate hospitals (71.6%). One hundred eighty-nine (58.3%) respondents worked in teams with male majority, 50 (15.4%) in women-majority teams, while 85 (26.2%) worked in teams with gender equality. Of the 324 respondents, 218 (67.3%) had men managers, while 106 (32.7%) had women managers. Men led 160 (84.7%) male-majority teams; 45 (52.9%) gender-equal teams; and 13 (26%) female-majority teams (p<0.00001). Age >45 years was found to be associated with a leadership role (43% vs 25%, p=0.0012). The most significant barrier perceived for advancement of career for women was finding a work-life balance. Most respondents suggested provision of flexible training programmes to improve the disparity. Of the 558 journal publications inspected, 145 (26%) articles had a female first or corresponding author. Conclusions The study brought out the current figures regarding gender climate in oncology practice and academia across India. We identified lead thrust areas and schemes to improve the gender bias. There needs to be action at international, national and personal levels to bring about an efficient gender-neutral workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere000671
JournalESMO Open
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29-04-2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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