Sex discrimination occurs frequently in the medical field. It often manifests in the form of disparaging comments made to a female doctor about whether she intends to have children or not.
According to an article in NPR, the Physician Moms Group (PMG) is a professional forum where female physicians interact and receive support from each other regarding various types of work related issues. The group has more than 65,000 members. Thousands of members’ Facebook posts have appeared in the PMG forum where mothers talk about balancing motherhood and their professions.
Research Study by JAMA Internal Medicine
Motivated by the extent of the PMG posts, researchers undertook a study, which was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study showed survey results of more than 6,000 physician mothers. Professionally, these mothers encompassed a broad span, ranging from pediatricians to surgeons. The survey asked questions to determine whether workplace discrimination existed, and in particular, whether it existed regarding motherhood.
The following were the published results:
- Of the total number of female physicians, 77.9 percent reported discrimination (4 out of 5).
- Nearly 66 percent reported gender discrimination.
- About 33% reported maternal discrimination, which included discrimination based on pregnancy, a maternity leave or breastfeeding.
- All of the women who reported maternal discrimination said the discrimination was based on pregnancy or a maternity leave.
- About 50 percent said the discrimination was due to breastfeeding.
What form did the discrimination take?
- Disrespectful treatment (the most common)
- Being excluded from administrative decision-making
- Unequal pay and benefits compared to male counterparts
Repercussions on the Medical Field
Aside from the potential repercussions of discrimination lawsuits, the medical field already faces staffing challenges. Approximately 50 percent of the women, who experienced maternal discrimination, also complained of professional burnout.
In fact, statistics show that women have a higher incidence of being at risk for self-reported burnout than men. Today, about one third of all practicing physicians are women. Projections indicate there will be a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2025. This is crucial given the fact that the country already faces a growing and aging population that needs medical attention.
Administrators in the medical field are wise to deal with any instances of workplace discrimination and should put firm policies in place to prevent its occurrence.
Stephen Hans & Associates has decades of experience assisting business owners with employment related concerns.