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SWiG Day 2018 Our Fantastic First SWiG Day Achieves its Potential

Dr Helen Fidler speaks on the success of the BSG's first SWiG Day meeting, which took place in London on 12 October 2018.

"It takes only one person to have a good idea, but a whole team to make it happen. Last autumn, as I sat in BSG headquarters having coffee with Marcia McKnight and planning our year ahead for the BSG’s ‘Supporting Women in Gastroenterology’ group, the idea of holding a SWiG conference at the Royal College of Physicians seemed a crazy idea. CPD approval, funding, programme, level of interest all seemed uncertain and what if no-one turned up?"

"So on October 12th 2018, as I entered the RCP to our first ever BSG SWiG day, I was reminded of the power of a dynamic, talented and motivated group and felt privileged to be part of it. With Dame Jane Dacre speaking and Jane Eaden acting as Chair for the day there was an amazing atmosphere. An environment in which everyone felt safe to talk about their struggles combining their career goals with the realities of life- ill health, caring commitments, indirect discrimination and undermining behaviour affect us all. But with only 19% of gastroenterology consultants being female, it appears to be a particular difficulty for women and solutions were the focus of the day."

#ChangingtheFaceOfGastroenterology

"We kicked off with a feisty introduction from Cathryn and then I spoke about contracts and job planning. Although that sounds incredibly dull, it is actually very interesting to see the disparity between the rules (terms and conditions) and the implementation and how to overcome it. Clare Woodford from the BMA then reminded us of the gender pay gap in medicine and Laura Blackburn introduced the BSG mentoring programme – a fantastic initiative, and as two thirds of those present were trainees likely to have a high take-up rate."

Alenka Brooks definitely had the best slides and personal story of us all with practical ways to follow a less traditional career path, and Debbie Shawcross showed how academia can be entered at several stages and was less esoteric than many of us think. Simon Flemming (#hammeritout) explained how we can all recognise and tackle undermining behaviour – my own favourite was being told ‘I thought you were more ambitious than that’ on becoming pregnant with my fourth child. Siwan Thomas-Gibson explained how to navigate the CEA minefield, and we then had an informal afternoon break out Q and A session which felt rather like an especially interesting clinic.

With Cathryn Edwards and Dame Jane Dacre summing up the day and highlighting the best ways for us all to achieve our potential in gastroenterology the day finished on a high, with no technical hitches thanks to Irene Maposa.

I am so grateful to everyone for pulling this day together and it was wonderful to feel the supportive and constructive atmosphere. Now it’s time to start thinking about the programme for next year and to continue to develop the support that the BSG offers to all its members. Thank you everyone!

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