Medical Jobs

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009 - Employment, job search, Legal, Medical Jobs, Ph.D.

Medical Job Sexism?

medieval female doctor
Creative Commons License photo credit: hans s

The UK Medical Profession seems to have a problem with women doctors.

How do I know this? Because since 2007, in their various college professional guises, they have issued a series of press releases based on the fact that more women are now entering the medical profession than men, and that by 2014 women doctors in the NHS will outnumber male doctors.

This is an employment blog, so why include a simple statistic? Because the Royal College of Surgeons latest press release says:

With women more likely to want flexible working to fit with having a family, the NHS faces challenges which could affect patient care. The profession would be failing patients if it ignored such concerns

Excuse me? So, having fought – and lost – the debate on the European Working Time directive and its effects on doctor training if junior doctors weren’t allowed to work any more than 70hours a week, the UK Medical Profession are now using the “failing patients” cover to limit the intake of young women to medical training courses?

Medical History

Margaret Ann Bulkley was the first female doctor in the UK, who had to dress as a man for more than 50 years to become her alter-ego Dr James Barry. It was only when she died in 1865 that her secret was exposed after 46 years working as an army medical officer.

Elizabeth Garret-Anderson was the first registered as a woman female doctor in the UK. In 1873 she gained membership of the British Medical Association and remained the only woman member for 19 years, due to the Association’s vote against the admission of further women.

Flexible working

In 2007, the British Medical Association found that 58% of doctors who graduated in 2006 were female compared with 51% in 1995. In a supplemental survey, a poll of 435 doctors suggests one in five female doctors anticipate working part-time for most of their career, while the figure for men was one in 25. The BMA at that point was in conflict with some other members of the UK Medical Profession, as it was seeking more flexible hours for trainee doctors. Eventually, under the European Working Time Directive, it was agreed that Junior Doctors hours would be reduced to 48 from August 2009

In 2008, writing in the British Medical Journal, Dr Brian McKinstry said:

Female doctors are more likely to work part-time, leading to staffing problems. Women, who now outnumber men in medical schools, are also less likely to take part in training or research

Thankfully, the BBC interviewed Professor Jane Dacre, vice dean of biomedical sciences at University College London, who said rather than worrying about having too many female doctors, there should be more focus on ensuring equal opportunities for medics throughout their careers:

When I was at medical school, there was a quota and they were only allowed 30% women. There is quite a developing evidence base that female doctors are not inferior to male doctors, but in fact are doing better in terms of getting into medical school and in their exams.

Employment Law

So, why does a debate on female doctors end up on an employment blog? Simply:

  • The rest of European Industry has to work within the law, so why should medicine be different?
  • Personally, I just want the best trained Doctor in front of me when I need treatment – I couldn’t care less if they were: male or female; Muslim, Christian or atheist; black or white; or even disabled – I just want the best doctor

But most of all, I think a debate on Women in Medicine needs to end up on an employment blog, because equal rights is an issue for all, and particularly in employment. Rather than limiting the number of women going into medicine, why not embrace the great number of high quality candidates, and start up an initiative in schools to encourage more young men to take up medicine? Over restricting or excluding one part of the UK community over another, why not encourage the rest?

The British Medical profession: embrace the change, accept the law; don’t resit it and hence take yourselves downwards.

Good Luck!


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One Response to “Medical Jobs”

  1. Fogia Says:

    Great points! As a nurse, our NHS systems and equipment are wholly modern, but some of our HR practices are Victorian. They need to come into the modern age!

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