6 Reasons why Female Doctors won’t Reach Senior Ranks

The suggestion is that feminisation of the medical workforce will degrade professional leadership, status and influence because women will compromise career aspirations for parenthood.

Since recent decades women comprise 60-75% of medical school entrants, at least in the UK and The Netherlands. However, only 1 in 10 medical clinical professors are women in the United Kingdom (UK). No female professor was employed in 6 medical schools. The presence of women in high ranking management and scientific jobs in Medicine has not increased.

How does gender affect aspirations in the medical workforce?

  • Female medicals students were more prepared than male students to sacrifice high professional aspirations to the realities of parenthood. Men held to their high aspirations assuming their partner would care for the children
  • There is a lack of female professional role models. Successful women are fewer in number
  • Assumptions of female medical students are influenced by stereotypes. Women are portrayed as followers and part-timers. Men as leaders and full-time workers
  • The dominant social picture is that of women being mothers and men being breadwinners
  • Women are portrayed in humbler medical specialties, such as psychiatry, while men are portrayed in prestigious specialties, such as surgeons
  • Lack of professional career advice to counterbalance these influences

These are the conclusions of a recent study published in Medical Education. This study involved students in their first clinical experience in Year 3 and 4. The design was to include a wide range of medical students with a wide spectrum of opinions. These students were interviewed with audio recording with a semi-structured, in-depth exploratory interview on which quantitative analysis was carried out by a female medical student researcher.

The authors concluded based on their results that more flexible work opportunities are needed as well as better career advice.

The question is how an increasing female workforce can be encouraged to seek career progression and an appropriate work-life balance.

But then, why should women want to adhere to demands placed on them by male dominance? What is your opinion, let me know in the comments

Related post on this blog:
Women Doctors more often wear White Coats in Media Portrayals

Drinkwater, J., Tully, M.P., Dornan, T. (2008). The effect of gender on medical students’ aspirations: a qualitative study. Medical Education, 42(4), 420-426. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2008.03031.x