Intended for healthcare professionals


Improving the position of women in medicine

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 09 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:71

Will not be achieved by focusing only on the problems of women

  1. Elaine Showalter, Professor of English (
  1. Princeton University, NJ, USA

    Papers p 91

    Along with other Scandinavian countries, Norway is one of the world's most progressive societies in terms of sex equality: dual career families are the norm, and official policy has favoured women in the workplace. Yet, even here, women doctors have not competed equally with men to achieve leadership in their profession. On p 91 Kvæner et al show that despite high sex ratios, liberal maternity leave policies, creche facilities, and funds for daycare, women doctors in 1997are still not taking leadership positions in hospital medicine, academic medicine, public health, or private health care. In the 1990s half of Norwegian medical students have been female, but the new generation of female physicians is no more likely to be in leadership positions than the older ones. Do women simply lack ambition? Is equity in medical leadership an impossible goal? What do …

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