Prof G the feminist

Three things happened to me this week that made realise that I am a feminist.

Firstly, Alasdair Coles’ complimented me on the piece I wrote about ‘the MS Establishment‘ and the observation that so few women neurologists have made it onto trial steering committees. He has even asked some of his Cambridge medical students to track down the sex of all the author’s in his database so that we can do formal metrics on the male:female ratio of writing committee members of the pivotal phase 3 studies. I believe that highlighting the issue of a lack of women at the top may nudge the MS community to do something about it.

At the MS Society Treatment Selection Workshop I attended on Tuesday, where I met Alasdair Coles, I was sitting next to a younger female colleague when Dr Richard Wyse, from The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, was presenting. He showed a slide of their expert advisory committee, which had a list of 18-20 names of eminent Parkinson’s Disease experts from around the globe. The sad thing was that not one of them was a woman. I nudged my female colleague and pointed out the total lack of women on this panel and she responded that men make more noise and hence are more likely to get invited to these sorts of things. That is not the issue. Without the diversity and different thinking, that women bring to committees like this, these committees are likely to underperform. And why shouldn’t women make it to the top in their fields of study? 

Finally, I was teaching a group of Latin American Neurologists later this week when one of the female neurologists in the group said she supported everything I was doing to help women in neurology. ‘What I asked her?’ She said she viewed me as a feminist and followed me on Twitter and LinkedIn. To be honest with you I thought I was just being a good Dad standing up for his daughters’ future rights.  I have never thought about being a feminist in the past, but I suppose as a person who supports equal rights for women in society and in the workplace, I am one.

I have just arrived in LaLa land to attend the AAN. I wonder how many of the attendees will be women? If you are reading this and are in a position of influence can you please try and support women in neurology, in particular academic neurology. There are far too few at the top. 


About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • Are women over-represented in the field of MS nurses? Are women over-represented in the field of Executive Assistants (e.g EAs to Professors of Neurology)? Feminism is not just about whether women have a fair chance at getting to the top of the professions. Instead of trying to solve this issue of under-representation of women in professional jobs could you address the issue of why women are 3 times more likely to get MS than men and do something which means that this disease can be stopped in its tracks for men and women (that's real equality).

  • I do not care if an MS researcher is male or female whatsoever. The best person, whether female or male, for the job is going to move past the already established neuroinflammatory DMD model only on behalf of Pharma.

    I want this researcher to discover the cause of MS for those who have not already got this miserable disease. They will hopefully be shouting from the rooftop for an EBV vaccination trial, which has been available for > 10 years, if this is what is thought to cause MS.

    I also want this researcher to start putting their weight behind new innovative therapies that remyelinate, stop neurodegeneration and provide neurorestoration to help those with established MS that actually improve their clinical condition, not just delay their inevitable decline. Whether or not this is a male or female is irrelevant but if that happens to be a female that would be great.

  • Female consultant neurologists to male I wonder what the ratio is?
    Gender in the NHS document 2016 states:
    Consultants 65% men,35% women.
    NHS workforce 77% women, 23% men.
    Doctors in training 47% men, 53% women.

  • You have worked in neurology for 30 odd years. Has it taken you this long to see that the top of the profession is dominated by middle aged white men (usually privately educated / Oxbridge white men)? When you were in SA did you not see that white people dominated all the professions? You want to appear as right-on, but it looks like it's jumping on the current bandwagon.

    • Bandwagon aside; some of us are simply slower than others at acting on the bigger picture. Information itself rarely changes behaviour.

    • Nothing quite like a bandwagon to get the public's attention. Good on you ProfG. Don't feel bad about being late to the party; 99% of the male population is late.

  • Well I, for one, share being father of a female MS researcher and GG being a feminist does matter.

    How (much) exactly?

    Would I still follow the blog if he wasn't? Probably.

    Would I be as excited, as in telling everyone? No

  • names of eminent Parkinson's Disease experts from around the globe….All from English speaking countries too:-(

  • Human central nervous system astrocytes support survival and activation of B cells: implications for MS pathogenesis.

  • Both women are relegated to Science, Medicine, as non-english speaking countries, as the MD said above, doesn't have much space in the dissemination of their work, research.

    The world, a "bubble" of a few…

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