82 per cent of women working in medicine admitted concern regarding the impact that their career in medicine could have on having children, significantly more than the 39 per cent of men who were of the same opinion. A similar number (83 per cent) responded that they found it difficult to balance their medical workload with their family commitments, while 73 per cent of male doctors said the same thing.
Almost half of female medical practitioners (46 per cent) have delayed having children due to their career in medicine, which is far more than the just 19 per cent of men who admitted to doing the same. In her address Gráinne Larkin, BL and Chair of the Women’s Working Group alluded to her experience in the Bar, where women felt under pressure to keep their pregnancy a secret, in addition to plan the time of their pregnancy at the most appropriate time.
The issue of harassment affected both genders, 35 per cent of trainee doctors reported bullying or harassment and 46 per cent said that they had suffered undermining behaviour, but a significantly higher number of doctors who reported such experiences were women.
The survey highlighted some clear gender distinctions regarding specialty areas; 88 per cent of female doctors and 79 per cent of male doctors believed that gender played a part in a doctor’s choice of specialty. Both male and female non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) claimed that personal interest was a factor in specialty choice but female NCHDs were more likely to allude to work-life balance and job flexibility as considerations, 33 per cent, compared to a lower 19 per cent of their male counterparts.
President of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Ann Hogan, commented: “It is obvious from the research that gender still continues to impact on careers in the medical profession with family considerations often affecting female practitioners to a greater extent than their male colleagues”. She also called for “catch-up” on inspiring female doctors to apply for top consultant positions, as a higher number of men reported being encouraged to do so in their career. She said that was particularly necessary in specialties with low numbers of female consultants, such as surgery, where only 15 per cent of consultant surgeons are female.