The rising number of women entering the medical field has spurred studies and debates about gender differences for decades. Do men and women really “doctor” differently? Evidence shows they do.
September is National Women in Medicine Month #WIMMonth, as declared by the American Medical Association. The AMA says female physicians have different professional aspirations and want the option to have a flexible work schedule. (The past three consecutive presidents of the AMA are women, by the way, including current president, Patrice A. Harris, MD.)
Today, the medical field is filled with influential women, and the numbers are growing: a total of 389,850 female physicians are practicing in the U.S. (compared to 200 in 1960). This dynamic workforce change is also impacting physician recruiters.
For starters, many medical specialties – including Obstetrics & Gynecology – are dominated by women. Nearly 60% of practicing OB/GYNs are women. In the next 10 years, 66% of OB/GYNs are expected to be female. What’s more, 50% of all doctors matching into OB/GYN residency programs are women, compared to 10% 50 years ago. OB/GYN isn’t the only popular specialty for female physicians. Here’s a breakdown of the top 5 specialties where women make up a larger proportion of residency positions today than their male counterparts:
- Obstetrics and Gynecology - 82.7%
- Pediatrics - 73%
- Allergy and Immunology - 70.4%
- Medical Genetics - 67.1%
- Dermatology - 64.4%
In addition to understanding the different candidate pools for various specialties, it’s also vital for physician recruiters to recognize that women physicians want more options to help them address the struggles of balancing work and family responsibilities. Women physicians are more likely to cut back professionally to accommodate household responsibilities. They’re also more likely to take time off when a child is sick or a school is closed – so flexibility in their work schedule is key. Furthermore, if you’re recruiting for tough-to-fill rural positions, women just might be the key to your success: female physicians are an essential component of the rural workforce, according to the Annals of Family Medicine, and they thrive in rural settings (as do their patients).
Recruiters provide an important foundation for the success of women in medicine, and this month is a great time to recognize the importance of the female culture of medicine. One prominent radiologist, Nisha Mehta, MD, who writes and speaks about being a woman physician, sums it up beautifully:
"I am unquestionably aware that being a woman makes a huge difference in how I approach my career, how others perceive me, and the professional and personal challenges I face. One of the biggest challenges of my career has been to acknowledge/embrace that my life is different from those whose portraits lined the halls of my medical school’s walls and focus on creating the life in medicine that I want for myself and my family.”
Want to learn more about how to recruit female physicians? Check out another article from our blog series on women in medicine ‘Recruiting Female Physicians With Flexibility.”