Intended for healthcare professionals

Editorials Christmas 2018: Equal to the Task

Unto them a child is born

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 12 December 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k5029

Linked research

Physician mothers’ experience of workplace discrimination

  1. Kate F Lovett, dean
  1. Royal College of Psychiatrists, London, UK
  1. kate.lovett{at}

Hitting the “maternal wall” in medicine

In a linked paper,1 Halley et al describe a thematic analysis of free-text answers from an online survey of female doctors.2 Quantitive data already published from this survey, suggest that women perceive discimination related to motherhood, not just gender. The aim of the new qualitative analysis was to identify ways in which women doctors experience this maternal discrimination.

The sample was drawn from an online community of women who identify as medical mothers. The Physician Moms Facebook group was established in 20143 and now has over 71 000 members, most whom are based in North America.4 While the sample is unlikely to be representative of all physician parents, it does provide a large dataset which the authors analysed using grounded theory techniques to explain patterns within the women’s reported experiences. Emerging themes included varying expectations of performance (both higher and lower), fewer opportunities for career development, financial differences, lack …

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