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Women in academic psychiatry

  • Rina Dutta (a1), Sarah L. Hawkes (a1), Amy C. Iversen (a1) and Louise Howard (a2)

Across academic medicine, including psychiatry, women are underrepresented in senior positions. Various reasons have been put forward, for example the lack of high-ranking female role models or mentors and a reduced rate of career progression for women compared with men. Mentoring has been shown to be a popular and feasible intervention which can improve the success of those perceived as disadvantaged groups (in this case women) by having an important impact on personal development, career guidance and research productivity.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Rina Dutta (
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These authors contributed equally to this work.

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BJPsych Bulletin
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Women in academic psychiatry

  • Rina Dutta (a1), Sarah L. Hawkes (a1), Amy C. Iversen (a1) and Louise Howard (a2)
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Women in Academic Psychiatry: View from India

Mamta Sood, Psychiatrist
18 August 2010

Dutta et al (2010)1 discuss various reasons for under representation of women psychiatrists in senior positions across academic medicine from high income countries (HICs). We would like to share our experience from India as a representative of low income countries (LICs). Over the last few decades, number of women psychiatrists in India has beenon the rise and they constitute about 15% of total psychiatrists. However,most of them are working at junior positions, with only about 10% at senior positions2. The women psychiatrists in India are represented in different health sectors like general hospital psychiatric units, psychiatric hospitals and the office based practice. Majority of the premier medical schools of the country have women faculty but mostly in junior positions. Some also head an academic department in different partsof the country, and a few have even headed a medical school in the past. Some of the women psychiatrists in the country have also taken leadership roles in areas of child psychiatry, suicide prevention, community psychiatry, rehabilitation of patients with schizophrenia and issues related to women mental health. A few have held the position of the President of the Indian Psychiatric Society, the national body of psychiatrists in the past. Though the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, the official journal of the society, never had a woman editor; some of the journals published by the constituent zones of the national society did have women editors at times. One of them, the Journal of Mental Health andHuman Behaviour happens to be edited by a women psychiatrist. Criticallyseen as a whole, the original articles and some case reports make the major chunk of their contributions to the journal. Reviews, invited articles, presidential addresses, editorials, commentaries, orations and critiques by women authors in the journal are negligible. No woman psychiatrist represents as advisor on policy matters related to mental health in general or in relation to women to the Government of India. 3 As far as looking after the specific needs related to their family relatedroles, there are no guidelines for pregnancy and maternity leave for womenpostgraduate students in the country. If she joins a government job, there is a provision for maternity leave, but this often is not available for the postgraduate students. Few hospitals or medical colleges provide reliable on site daycare and school-based childcare is not available when children are older. On discontinuation of a job for family-building or other reasons, options for revival of career after a certain period are presently unavailable due to restrictions in age and qualification. There is no association of women psychiatrists at regional or national level.2 Unlike HICs where specific needs, aspirations, areas of interest, monetaryincentives, working styles, characteristics and other issues related to women psychiatrists have been studied and attempts have been made to address these, there is negligible research in this area in LICs. Moreover, they have negligible role in policy making of the specialty. Currently there is no system addressing the specific issues related to women doctors as a whole in India and other neighbouring countries in the Indian subcontinent2. References: 1.Dutta R, Hawkes SL, Iversen AC, Howard L. Women in academic psychiatry.The Psychiatrist 2010; 34: 313-317

2.Sood M, Chadda RK. Women in psychiatry: A view from the Indian subcontinent. Indian J Psychiatry 2009; 51:199-201

3.Sood M, Chadda RK. Women Psychiatrists in India: A reflection of their contributions. Indian J Psychiatry 2010; 52, in Press
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