Science without meritocracy. Discrimination among European specialists in infectious diseases and clinical microbiology: A questionnaire survey

Evelina Tacconelli, Mario Poljak, Marina Cacace, Giovanni Caiati, Nur Benzonana, Elisabeth Nagy, Titia Kortbeek

Research output: Article

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: In 2009, in a European survey, around a quarter of Europeans reported witnessing discrimination or harassment at their workplace. The parity committee from the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ESCMID) designed a questionnaire survey to investigate forms of discrimination with respect to country, gender and ethnicity among medical professionals in hospitals and universities carrying out activities in the clinical microbiology (CM) and infectious diseases (ID) fields. Design: The survey consisted of 61 questions divided into five areas (sociodemographic, professional census and environment, leadership and generic) and ran anonymously for nearly 3 months on the ESCMID website. Subjects: European specialists in CM/ID. Results: Overall, we included 1274 professionals. The majority of respondents (68%) stated that discrimination is present in medical science. A quarter of them reported personal experience with discrimination, mainly associated with gender and geographic region. Specialists from South-Western Europe experienced events at a much higher rate (37%) than other European regions. The proportion of women among full professor was on average 46% in CM and 26% in ID. Participation in high-level decision-making committees was significantly (>10 percentage points) different by gender and geographic origin. Yearly gross salary among CM/ID professionals was significantly different among European countries and by gender, within the same country. More than one-third of respondents (38%) stated that international societies in CM/ID have an imbalance as for committee member distribution and speakers at international conferences. Conclusions: A quarter of CM/ID specialists experienced career and research discrimination in European hospitals and universities, mainly related to gender and geographic origin. Implementing proactive policies to tackle discrimination and improve representativeness and balance in career among CM/ID professionals in Europe is urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001993
JournalBMJ open
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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