Glasgow Uni is ‘failing its students’ by not tackling Medical School culture, senior lecturer says

Students call for more senior academics to take action against discrimination

A senior academic suggests that Glasgow University is “failing its students by not confronting behaviours which were probably unacceptable in 1922 and are certainly not acceptable in 2022.”

Dr James Going resigned after over 30 years at the University of Glasgow after claiming there was a “culture of misogyny” in the medical school.

An undergraduate medical student expressed her support of Dr Going but said: “More people in the Medical School need to be doing things like Going in taking a stand against discrimination.”

This week Going spoke to BBC Scotland following his resignation, claiming: “There is very good reason to believe that women in academic roles in the medical school are being treated differently to males in comparable roles.

“Essentially we are talking about women, and people in quite senior roles with a strong academic background, having managerial decisions made relating to their employment without their knowledge, essentially without their consent.

“I would categorise it as undermining. There was also emerging, I understood, a culture in which women were sidelined, minimalized, their contributions quite frequently ignored, even to the extent of being talked over in meetings.”

Going later goes on to suggest that whilst the university claims to have launched an inquiry into this behaviour, he calls for the findings to be made public: “The university in attempting to pretend none of this was happening, has made this situation a great deal worse for numerous individuals within the school of medicine and I think it is time to learn the lessons so many organisations have had to learn, instead of trying to pretend that nothing bad is happening and there is nothing to see here”.

Another female medical student suggests that it is important that James Going is attempting to “change the narrative” on discriminatory behaviour in the Medical School.

Head of the school of medicine, dentistry and nursing, Professor Matthew Walters, said: “The wellbeing of everyone in our community will always be our prime concern, and we are committed to ensuring that all staff and students in the University and its Medical School feel safe, supported and free from discrimination or abuse of any kind.

“Following concerns over gender-based bullying and discrimination within the Undergraduate Medical School we launched an internal investigation. While no individuals were found culpable, behaviours were uncovered that fell short of our high professional expectations.

“We recognise that we must do better. I am determined that we work in a School that promotes treating each other with kindness, with dignity, and with respect. I speak for all senior colleagues in the School and College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Science when I say that I am sorry that any of our staff or students have been subjected to unwelcome, unacceptable behaviour and distressing incidents.

“An action plan is being taken forward to review and where necessary improve the working environment for all our staff and students.”

Professor Walters has said the university’s action plan includes training for staff and an external team developing a progressive and inclusive culture. The school will also relaunch its equality, diversity and inclusion committee.

This follows the news last week that head of undergraduate medicine, Professor John Paul Leach, will leave his job. An investigation into the behaviour of Leach was opened by the university following complaints from “multiple” students and staff. He has been under scrutiny after misogynistic lecture slides from 2017 resurfaced displaying an image of “the female brain”.

Professor Leach is set to take up role of senior clinical neuroscientist with a multinational pharmaceutical company and has maintained he is not leaving due to the disciplinary process. He told The Herald: “There is no bullying or misogynistic behaviour of which I’ve been guilty and no sanction so I leave with my record at the university clear.”


Professor Matthew Walters has described Leach as “talented” before wishing him well in his departure from Glasgow University.

Whilst an email concerning Leach’s resignation was sent out to staff, undergraduate medical students are yet to receive correspondence regarding his resignation. However, the general feeling amongst students is that they are not surprised at this apparent lack of transparency from the school.

Students have suggested more needs to be done on tackling discriminatory practices, and have called for more senior academics to be “doing what James Going is doing in claiming he doesn’t support this behaviour”.

The University is yet to comment on the outcome of the investigation.

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