Being a physician is one of the most demanding professions. Aside from the years of difficult studying, the day-to-day demands are challenging and require talent, expertise, and professionalism. Yet even today, many female doctors still face workplace discrimination. Of concern are those who are treated unfairly because they have children, also known as maternal discrimination.
Recent studies from BMJ and JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that one-third of physicians surveyed that are mothers complained of this type of discrimination. Stories about limited advancement opportunities, performance expectations based on gender, and lower salaries than their peers were discussed. Many of these women also said that they did not receive workplace support throughout and after their pregnancies. They stated that they were passed over for opportunities given to male co-workers and not asked to participate in work-related activities because they had younger children at home.
Analyzing the Data
To obtain data, researchers used an anonymous survey that they posted on a Facebook page used by US-based physician mothers. The average age of the respondents was 39, who had an average of two children up to the age of six. Most of the respondents were white, residency-trained practicing doctors, who were working over 40 hours a week.
A doctor from the University of California’s Department of Dermatology worked with colleagues to analyze the survey responses. They found that 53 percent of medical school graduates are female, and around 80 percent of female doctors are mothers, or will become mothers in the future. The researchers concluded that these doctors faced continuous discrimination because they were mothers. The examples of discrimination were both overt and more hidden.
Like other working mothers, these physicians experienced feelings of guilt and stress related to the discrimination. Balancing the responsibilities of being a mother and a doctor was stressful for them, especially when they were not supported by their workplaces.
Fighting Maternal Discrimination
The doctor advocated for workplace initiatives to promote gender equality that support the physicians and their families. They recommended that medical workplaces revamp their policies for pregnant employees, parental leave, and child care. These could include longer maternity leaves, additional child care options, and support for breastfeeding mothers. In addition, expectant mothers and those with children could benefit from leniency regarding their hours during their residencies, which are notoriously long.
The findings concluded that many medical facilities should consider structural changes that would effectively address these issues. Initiatives and policy changes like these could also benefit patients. Physician mothers that receive more support at work are less stressed, less tired, and can perform their jobs better.
Philadelphia Physician Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Represent Physicians Facing Discrimination
To be the best parent and physician possible, you need workplace support. If you are experiencing maternal discrimination at your medical practice or facility, contact the Philadelphia physician lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our office is in Philadelphia, and we serve clients in Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. Call 215-569-1999 or complete an online form today for a free case evaluation.