Gender similarities in doctors´ preferences--and gender differences in final specialisation

Gjerberg E. Soc Sci Med. 2002 Feb;54(4):591-605.

Article in English.

Abstract on Pubmed:

This article is based on a career history study of gender differences and similarities in recruitment to and transitions between specialities among Norwegian doctors. A questionnaire on career and family history was sent to all Norwegian doctors authorised in 1980-1983. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were used to describe and analyse completion of specialisation in the specialty in which they started their career. Survival analysis was used to analyse transitions between medical specialities. The findings clearly contradict the idea that the low proportion of women in male dominated areas of medicine reflects women´s lack of interest in specialities like surgery and internal medicine. Women were as likely as men to start their career in these fields. The problem is their not completing specialist training. A far higher proportion of men than women completed their specialist training in surgery. The reasons for this are complex. Heavy work loads with duties and "nights on call" make it difficult for women to combine childcare and work and make them change to other specialities. Also, female specialists in surgery and internal medicine postpone having their first child compared to women in other medical specialities. However, the fact that some women change from surgery to gynaecology and obstetrics, a specialty which to a considerable extent are comparable with surgery with regard to duty and work loads, indicate that structural barriers in combining childcare and a hospital career do not fully explain the flux of women. The possible existence of other closure mechanisms in surgery, as indicated by some doctors in this and in other studies, have to be further explored.

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