Posted by: Augusta Kiesau | February 6, 2014

Women in Medicine

I chose this blog post because I want to go into medicine myself so I thought to explore the topic of women in medicine.  It seems that there are plenty of women that are primary care doctors, but now I question if some of them are there because they want to be or if they chose to go in that direction because of frustration.  In the AAMC’s Women in US Academic Medicine: Statistics and Benchmarking Report it was revealed that the higher up the professorial and leadership ladder an individual goes at a medical school or teaching hospital, the fewer women there are. Women compose 35% of all faculty and they are concentrated in junior teaching positions.  Women make up 42% of assistant professors, 31% of associate professors, 19% of fully qualified professors, 21% of division or sector chiefs, 13% of department chairs, and 13% of deans.  These numbers are relatively low considering medicine is a specialty field and there are not as many schools for it compared to undergraduate schools. 

            On top of the low statistics of women in academic medicine, the women in those positions are under appreciated and somewhat discriminated against as seen in the example that the author provides in the blog.  The woman mentioned in the blog was pushed to work more holidays, cover shifts, and put in more time and she never got anything out of it.  She wasn’t recognized for her time and dedication.  She also wasn’t able to conduct more research because of the extra time she had to put in.  All of these factors added up and became frustrating to her because she couldn’t see herself moving up the ladder of leadership in the teaching hospital. 

            The author says that researchers think that women don’t go up the ladder because they are seen as too sensitive.  I feel like that stereotype can’t really apply to this field because it’s kind of a masculine field.  How would women make it in the field at all if they were too sensitive?  I think it might be the alternative the organizational culture.  My only question is why do more women feel minimalized then men if it’s the organizational culture?

            I just find this frustrating that this is in the field that I want to go into.  Granted I actually do kind of want to be a general practitioner, I don’t want to feel the need that it’s my only option because I will be deterred in more authoritative positions in the academic setting.   

            Please write any thoughts about this issue, whether it be pertaining to the blog article seen above, if your opinion differs from mine, or if you have any other information to add about it.






  1. I, too, want to go into the medical field, and as a child of a physician have seen both men and women struggle in the medical field. My father is an OB-GYN and two of his partners are women. I have shadowed both of his partners, and asked them specifically about the struggles and discrimination they have faced as women in the medical field. They personally feel that gender in the OBGYN region of medicine is not an issue due to the fact that women often prefer other women as their doctors.
    On the other hand, a woman from my church is a Pediatric Oncologist. She works for the hospital while her husband stays at home with their children. She, unlike the nurse practitioners has been ridiculed for her career choice and struggled with male chauvinism throughout her twelve years of medical school and residency. She struggles daily with criticism for not being the “typical mother” and working too much. I have also shadowed her and she is quite sensitive. She falls in love with the children she treats and her “sensitiveness” is what makes her successful. Many typically feminine characteristics, I believe, make women successful in leadership. People crave being accepted and cared for, if women are this way, it should be praised, not discriminated against.
    I agree that this concept is frustrating, but struggles, I believe, should be all the more reason to be motivated to pursue such a challenging and rigorous career path. This being said I am in no way condoning gender stereotypes, but I do believe that in order to change these things women must continue striving for excellence and greatness no matter what it takes. In order to enact change, women must be bold and refuse to settle for typically feminine roles unless that is their desire. I personally believe a career that is personally fulfilling should be pursued by anyone who desires it regardless of the trials one must endure to become successful.

  2. I also want to go into medicine, but I do not necessarily think that medicine is very gender-biased. When it comes to schooling, all medical students, male and female, must go through the same rigorous training and studying and are tested the same way mentally. However, I do understand how it may be seen as though men dominate the medical field. Women may not be seen as competent enough or dedicated to their job enough if they have other obligations such as family. However, I believe that there are some gender biases and differences with how men and women practice medicine, and I have witnessed this on a personal level. Growing up, I had many immune problems, and continue to have them now. Whenever I would see my primary male doctor, he would do a simple check-up and then just send me to have tests run all the time. I did what was necessary, but did not get anywhere. One day recently when I went back to the doctor’s office, my doctor was not in so I had to see another doctor who turned out to be female. Since she was not very familiar with my case, I took the time to explain everything to her – and she actually listened! Instead of my male doctor who thought that he knows everything and didn’t want my say in what was going on, the female doctor took the time to sit down with me and explain my different options and figure everything out. With her help and caring spirit, most of my problems were actually solved, and I believe that her maternal nature truly helped with this. Don’t get me wrong, male doctors are wonderful, but sometimes you need a caring and genuine woman to listen to your problems and help you through them, which is especially crucial in this field. Has anyone had any similar situations or disagree? I would love to hear other viewpoints.

  3. I am also looking to pursue a career in medicine someday, so I found this article to be particularly fascinating. Although, after reading it, it still did not change my opinion very much from my original thoughts. I don’t see where the struggle of being a female in a highly accredited career is any more extreme in the medical field in comparison to any other field that requires more training and education than a typical four-year college degree. I think that most (if not all) women are often going to experience some degree of frustration of being a woman in their careers because men are not used to working with such educated women, since women were not always allowed to go to college back in the day. I recognize that this is an issue in the health field and something should be done about it, but we also must be thankful for how far women have come in recent years.

  4. I would also find it frustrating if I was in the woman’s position that you discussed in your blog. If asked and requires to work extra shifts and dedicating more time to and already time-consuming job without recognition, I would understand how gender biases may be seen. I think that the position should center around her being the best at what she does, rather than being asked to complete more responsibilities based on gender and sex.

    However, after reading the article, the individual being discussed said that academic medicine where she was located wasn’t great for anyone else either. Many women may feel that careers such as this may be forcing them into a glass ceiling effect of sorts. Being required to fulfill extra responsibilities and not getting the support needed from their superiors in such a demanding field can be overwhelming and provide a negative outlook on their career. However, I found it interesting how the article found most of the dissatisfaction of those working in academic medicine was a work environment that lacked compassion and care, making it hard for anyone, men and women, to reach their full potential.

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