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Abstract

A survey was designed to determine aspirations, motivations and workplace experiences of both female and male members of the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM). The survey collected both quantitate and qualitative data, including open ended questions. This paper reports the survey’s qualitative results. The research was approved by Ethics at University of South Australia and endorsed by ACPSEM. All 205 women (30% of total membership) and 440 men were invited to complete the survey online. The data for the qualitative analysis were responses to open-ended questions within the survey. 102 women and 150 men completed surveys were received, with 66 surveys analysed, before data saturation was reached. The survey revealed a number of themes that reflect concerns and opportunities identifying the direction for improving work-life balance and gender equity within the medical physics profession in Australasia. Issues around managing challenging workloads and professional development were amplified for women with children and child-rearing responsibilities, directly contributing to a reduction in work capacity and a reorientation of work-life priorities. The survey provides direction for strategies to improve work-life balance and enable equitable engagement in the profession. The first is to identify and develop role models that actively model successful work-life balance and flexibility in gender roles and in professional conduct. The second is to improve the management skills of current and emerging administrators, advocating for improved work conditions for medical physics professionals at an organisation level. Finally, efforts need to be made to establish flexible professional development and career progression opportunities amongst those that are unable to commit to large workloads, which is common for those with child-rearing responsibilities. The realisation of these strategic goals will reduce the identified barriers to full female participation in the workforce, and shift gender-based subcultures within the workplace.
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Researching health: qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods
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