By 2017 there will be more female than male doctors in the UK. According to the press, the rise is labeled as "worrying" and "bad for medicine".
However, Maham Khan asks the question in an editorial published by Student BMJ, whether medicine is becoming over-feminized and whether having too many female doctors is bad practice?
According to Jane Dacre, Medical School Director at University College London, feminization is a fact, however, she disagrees that medicine is becoming over-feminized and believes that the rise of women doctors is bridging the gender divide. Dacre said:
"I don't think we have yet reached an era of feminization. What we are doing is reaching equality."
Consultant cardiologist, Professor Jean McEwan, points out that several studies demonstrate women to be dominating in specialty areas, such as general practice, pediatrics, and palliative care, whilst some fields of medicine, for example cardiology and general surgery, remain closed or unattractive to women.
Other well-known professors support the view that women are not appointed in the highest positions, and according to research, there is still a gender pay gap in medicine.
Anita Holdcroft, Emeritus Professor of anaesthesia at Imperial College states:
"Medicine is not a profession of gender equality. Research shows women often feel uncomfortable in negotiations over pay. But yet they are doing the work. And the percentage of women who apply for clinical excellence awards is less than men."
Holdcroft suggests thinking of solutions on how some of these gender barriers can be overcome so that women "become visible."
According to Will Coppola, a senior lecturer at University College London, the problem starts at secondary school. He says:
"There is a serious problem with underachievement of boys at school," suggesting that the medical profession is losing its attraction as a career option due to various reasons, such as loss of status, control and regulation, and decreased autonomy. Khan asks 'Is a female future bad practice?'
In contrast to the fears stipulated in the media, Khan writes that having more women in the medical profession could result in safer practice, as it is proven that women are less likely to be subject to disciplinary hearings, according to a review of complaints received by the National Assessment Service (NCAS).
She points out that according to a published report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the progress of women in medicine is clearly highlighted and declares:
"With the report saying it will take women 55 years to reach equal status with men in the senior judiciary and 73 years for women directors in FTSE 100 companies, it seems in terms of numbers, female doctors have made giant leaps for womankind."
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