The profession of medicine is an ancient one, and for many years in many cultures it was the preserve of men only. In many cultures women were prohibited from training to become doctors because it was considered to be an unsuitable career for women to enter into.
Societal rules and restrictions are changing though and discrimination based on gender is becoming much less prevalent in most countries around the world. As a result we are seeing more and more female doctors entering the workforce.
In this article we take a look at some of the factors that might be driving this rise in the number of female doctors worldwide.
The medical training required to become a doctor is incredibly difficult. In all developed countries, medical training is structured as a tertiary level degree – completed at a formal medical school that is part of a recognized university. This isn’t the type of degree that you can do online or by correspondence. Generally this type of training takes five or six years of undergraduate study and then aspiring doctors must undertake a period of supervised practice in hospitals and clinics before their registration is completed. As well as their qualifications, medical practitioners are generally required to be licensed by the relevant governing body so that they are able to practice.
One of the factors driving an increase in the number of women doctors is that there are increasing numbers of women that are completing their secondary education and progressing to tertiary qualification.
One of the key barriers to women becoming doctors was the challenge of combining a professional career such as medicine with also being responsible for family duties such as caring for children. In the past, medical establishments have been inflexible and unable to support women who needed to be able to schedule shifts around childcare. This is rapidly changing and medical facilities are making a greater effort to make their workplaces more family friendly in order to attract and retain their female members of staff.
One factor that continues to play a part in women’s decision whether to enter the medical profession is that for many roles there continues to be a salary discrepancy. There appear to be a range of factors that are contributing to this, primarily though they are historical. In most countries men still hold most of the top jobs in the medical profession and men seem to be doing a better job at getting promotions and receiving pay rises. It is unclear what is holding women back from aspiring to the top roles in hospitals and clinics but it expected that as more and more women enter medical training to become doctors that this male dominance of top positions will eventually be redressed.
The latest figures estimate that in some countries the number of women doctors will outnumber the number of male doctors within the next decade. We are clearly seeing a major sea change in the world’s medical profession.