Women and men in the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine: workforce survey


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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The authors would like to thank ACPSEM for providing funding to conduct the qualitative analysis of the survey data.


$2500 was received from the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers to pay for services of a qualitative researcher (Heath Pillen) from the University of South Australia to lead the qualitative analysis of survey data.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Eva Bezak.

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Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The research was approved by Ethics at the University of South Australia and endorsed by ACPSEM. All data analyses involving survey participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all survey participants included in the study. Consent acknowledgment was included in the survey introduction.

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Bezak, E., Suchowerska, R., Claridge Mackonis, E. et al. Women and men in the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine: workforce survey. Australas Phys Eng Sci Med 42, 33–41 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13246-018-0706-z

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  • Women in health
  • Women in medical physics
  • Work-life balance