Intended for healthcare professionals


Women in medicine

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 19 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:412
  1. Iona Heath, general practitioner
  1. Caversham Group Practice, London NW5 2UP

    Continuing unequal status of women may reduce the influence of the profession

    In a recent interview with the Independent newspaper, Professor Carol Black, president of the Royal College of Physicians, expressed concern that the increasing number of women within medicine might lead to the profession losing influence and status. This received widespread media coverage and was portrayed as an astonishing position for a woman to adopt, with the clear implication that it was antifeminist. But is her concern valid?

    Few countries—notably Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Germany—have made substantial progress towards sexual equality and women's empowerment, and the United Kingdom is not one of them.1 In this regrettable situation it seems highly likely that Carol Black is right and that a profession that becomes feminised risks the loss of status and influence.

    Women working full time in Great Britain in April 2003 earned only 82% of the average full time earnings of men, and this gender pay gap in hourly earnings of 18% has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1990s.2 Domestic and …

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