Paediatrics Publications

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Advances in Health Sciences Education





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The importance of advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion for all members of the academic medical community has gained recent attention. Academic medical organizations have attempted to increase broader representation while seeking structural reforms consistent with the goal of enhancing equity and reducing disproportionality. However, efforts remain constrained while minority groups continue to experience discrimination. In this study, the authors sought to identify and understand the discursive effects of discrimination policies within medical education. The authors assembled an archive of 22 texts consisting of publicly available discrimination and harassment policy documents in 13 Canadian medical schools that were active as of November 2019. Each text was analysed to identify themes, rhetorical strategies, problematization, and power relations. Policies described truth statements that appear to idealize equity, yet there were discourses related to professionalism and neutrality that were in tension with these ideals. There was also tension between organizations’ framing of a shared responsibility for addressing discrimination and individual responsibility on complainants. Lastly, there were also competing discourses on promoting freedom from discrimination and the concept of academic freedom. Overall, findings reveal several areas of tension that shape how discrimination is addressed in policy versus practice. Existing discourses regarding self-protection and academic freedom suggest equity cannot be advanced through policy discourse alone and more substantive structural transformation may be necessary. Existing approaches may be inadequate to address discrimination unless academic medical organizations interrogate the source of these discursive tensions and consider asymmetries of power.