Welcome to Project S, a campaign to improve working conditions in the NHS, focusing on discrimination and workplace safety, and particularly the safety of women working in healthcare.
Project S is designed to raise the voices of women who have experienced discrimination at work, and who have felt unsafe at work as a result. The NHS is a predominantly female workforce – 77% of its 1.3 million staff are women. But we know women experience discrimination at work that impacts on their safety. Sexism, racism, and often both; as well as ableism, homophobia and transphobia.
Project S particularly aims to amplify the voices of women who have experienced sexism and racism while working in the NHS, using the power of personal stories to highlight lived experience and drive change.
Your Stories – together we roar; sharing lived experiences to drive change
The power of this platform is in the sharing of lived experiences to drive change. Personal stories are powerful forces, amplifying voices so often silenced through threats, shame, stigma and the structures of power.
Sharing your stories – all of which are posted anonymously and with no identifying information about the organisation or individuals involved – makes clear the need for change. We use them to puncture the silence and shame that so often accompanies experiences of sexism and racism; to show that no-one is alone; and to take action – building the knowledge and tools we need to make our workplaces safer.
This platform is a work in progress. We welcome your comments and feedback.
Sexism and Racism – the evidence
We know from surveys, from courageous survivors of sexual assault raising their voices, and the work of campaign groups like Surviving in Scrubs, that women working in the NHS have experienced sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault in their workplaces.
(Surviving in Scrubs reports the results of a 2021 survey by the British Medical Association – 91% of women doctors had experienced sexism in the last 2 years and 47% felt they had been treated less favourably due to their gender. Over half of the women (56%) said that they had received unwanted verbal comments relating to their gender and 31% said that they had experienced unwanted physical conduct.
We know those working in the NHS experience racism. The Workplace Race Equality Standard data published by NHS England every year illustrates the discrimination faced by staff from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
A 2021 BMA survey of more than 2,000 doctors and medical students reported that more than 90% of Black and Asian respondents, 23% of respondents with mixed ethnicity and 64% of white respondents believed racism in the medical profession was an issue.
Many women experience both sexism and racism. We know this affects women’s health, and income – the gender pay gap compounded by the ethnicity pay gap. Women from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are under represented at the most senior levels in the NHS, and as patients often suffer worse health outcomes (Black women are four times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than white women). We need to amplify the voices of these women, and to strive to eliminate sexism, racism and all forms of discrimination in the NHS.Click here to share your experience