This Resource Tool

ESCMID – the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases has been engaged for many years on promoting equality among CM/ID professionals.

To make this engagement more effective, ESCMID established the ESCMID Parity Commission (EPC) with the aim to review and improve the representation of minorities and gender as well as geographic balance in the fields of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

The Survey

To get reliable information of the situation of inequality in the sector, in 2011 the ESCMID Parity Commission promoted an online survey on discrimination regarding gender, minorities and geographic areas among CM and ID specialists in their employment and roles within universities, hospitals and organizations in Europe. Overall, 1,566 individuals participated in the Survey, of which 1,274 from Europe and 292 from other continental areas. The Survey made it possible to provide a well-grounded picture of inequality in the CM/ID sector as well as the social perception of it by CM/ID professionals and academics. Inevitably, the most evident and diffused form of discrimination emerged from the survey was that grounded on gender and, to a lesser extent, the one based on nationality. The results of the survey were published in BMJ open (get the article here).

The Research Study

The survey allowed to capture for the first time dimensions and basic dynamics of inequality among clinical microbiologists and infectious diseases specialists. However, in order to better identify the factors producing and reproducing inequality, a qualitative Research Study was conducted in 2015, still under the impulse of the ESCMID Parity Commission. The Research Study implied 52 in-depth interviews with CM/ID specialists and the organization of focus groups overall involving 29 managers in 8 hospitals located in five different European countries. The Study allowed to investigate the often hidden mechanisms fuelling inequality in the working environment and to identify their impacts on both CM/ID specialists and, more structurally, on their institutions. The Study mainly focused on discrimination based on gender but also made it possible to document other forms of discrimination grounded on nationality, disability, national origin or religion. The main results of the Study have been summarized in an article published in CMI (get the article here).

From knowledge to action: the Resource Tool

In order to capitalize on the large amount of knowledge produced through the 2011 Survey and the 2015 Study, the ESCMID Parity Commission decided in 2016 to develop this web-based Resource Tool aimed at supporting the development of measures and actions for combating any form of inequality affecting the CM/ID sector.


This Resource Tool is aimed at:

  •  Raising the awareness of CM/ID professionals about inequality dynamics and their impacts in the sector
  •  Providing a guidance to develop an equality assessment of their own institution, department or unit
  •  Providing organized information about possible actions and approaches to be develop in order to address with inequality in  the working environment (hospital, medical departments, university faculties, laboratories, etc.).

Who is this Resource Tool for?

This Resource Tool is addressed to all professionals in the fields of clinical microbiology and infectious diseases, whatever their position and their working environment. Evidently, special interest is expected by those professionals who have managerial responsibilities (e.g., head of ward, head of division, head of units, board of directors, principal investigators, etc.) and therefore who are more opportunities to activate a process of change in their own organization.

Which is the structure of the Resource Tool and how to read it

The Resource Tool includes three sections.

Section A (“Why Inequality Matters”) introduces you into the problem of inequality in the medical context and, especially, in the fields of clinical microbiology (CM) and infectious diseases (ID). The section, in particular, provides you with useful information about the dimensions of the problem, the main mechanisms reproducing unequal conditions over time, and the reasons why inequality is to be addressed. Reading this section may also be useful for those who work in an organization where inequality does not stand out as an emergent issue, as it provides a multiplicity of hints about the many forms inequality may take.

Section B (“Making a Diagnosis”) offers you practical information about approaches and indicators which can be used for assessing your working environment from the point of view of equality and diversity. This can be very helpful for understanding what are the major problems to focus on, for establishing the right priorities and above all for mobilizing your colleagues and leaders about the need to take inequality seriously. Starting from this section may be helpful for those who work in organizations where levels of inequality do not seem particularly serious at a first glance, but dynamics have to be investigated more in depth.

Section C (“Designing Equality Actions”) provides you with a wide range of examples of actions and measures adopted in research organizations, universities and hospitals which can be also applied in your institution. Evidently, it is up to you and your colleagues to identify the most appropriate actions and measures to take in your specific working environment. Starting from this section is particularly suggested to those who perceive that inequality is a serious problem in their institution, and need to envision different strategies to set a change process in motion.

The Resources Tool is made up of a main text and a set of resources.

The main text, organized in various sections, is short and can be autonomously read thoroughly.

The resources can be accessed from the main text through appropriate links. They may include relevant data and research results, lists of indicators, examples of equality measures or plans, conceptual models or schemes and any other possible information which could be of help to better understand or to go into the details of the main text. Each part is autonomous, so that the reader can easily decide what to read and what to skip.