Anyone who continues to doubt the backlash against the advancement of women in business and politics may be interested in the new front that's opening up in medicine. Apparently, because of a looming shortage of physicians — a shortfall of somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 relative to demand in the U.S. by 2020 — there's been a concern for some time that too many doctors are women.
What? you may say. How can widening the pool of potential doctors to more than half the population lead to a shortage?
In fact, according to a recent article written by my former Business Week colleague, Catherine Arnst, that's exactly what many male physicians think. The ratio of women to men in American medical schools is now about 1 to 1, and about one-third of the physician population here is female. But, the men say, studies show that female physicians work, on average, 20 percent to 25 percent fewer hours than male physicians, and see 10 percent fewer patients — no doubt because they have to rush home to cook and clean and care for their families. Women also, quite naturally, take time off early in their careers — no doubt to become mothers.
Ergo, there are too many woman doctors, especially as the nation ages and requires more care.
The argument seems to be raging abroad, too. In fact, the topic is changing from a private debate to a public one largely because of a recent commentary published in the British Medical Journal. Written by one Brian McKinstry, a general practitioner in Scotland, it argues that hospitals need to consider those statistics about women when they recruit doctors "in the absence of a profound change in our society in terms of responsibility for childcare." Following that logic, women who want to be doctors don't have the choice of career or family (and certainly not both); the men in charge will decide for them. And won't we women be back where we started, decades ago?
You can read Cathy's entire article by clicking here. It's an eye-opener.