IMO: Gender inequality in medicine having ‘profoundly negative effect’ on health system
- IMO surveys suggest female doctors compare poorly to their male counterparts when it comes to issues including childcare, gender discrimination and gender-based harassment
- ‘How can we expect female doctors to work in our health system if they are being treated this way?’
Saturday February 18, 2023. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the significant scale of gender inequality in medicine is having a “profoundly negative effect” on the health system and is contributing to the Government’s failure to both recruit doctors and retain those already working in Ireland.
The IMO is hosting a conference entitled ‘Gender Equality in Medicine’ in Dublin today (Saturday).
Speaking at the conference, Dr Madeleine Ni Dhalaigh, a member of the IMO GP Committee, said that females were disproportionately affected in the health system on a range of issues, which was having a knock-on effect on the provision of care.
“At a time when our health system is chronically understaffed, we need to be doing everything we can to both recruit doctors and retain those already working in the system. We know from an IMO survey that female doctors compare poorly to their male counterparts when it comes to issues including childcare, gender discrimination and gender-based harassment,” she said.
“How can we expect female doctors to work in our health system if they are being treated this way? This is having a profoundly negative effect on the health system – and patients are losing out because of it.”
She recommended the following steps in order to ease the burden on females:
- Family-friendly work options to improve flexibility.
- Ensure all doctors are aware of their parental rights.
- The modernisation of medical training to reflect working realities.
- Promotion of female leadership in medicine.
- Cultural change.
IMO survey on Gender Equality in Irish Medicine - findings included:
- Female doctors say they are more likely to reduce their hours to part-time (35.8%) or take unpaid leave (25.5.%) to care for children compared with male doctors (7.2% and 6.8%, respectively).
- Almost half (46.5%) of female doctors with children say they are mainly or fully responsible for childcare within their family, compared with 6.3% of male doctors.
- Over half (53.6%) of female doctors report having experienced gender-based harassment, compared with 12.4% of male doctors.
- Almost half (45.8%) of female doctors say they have experienced relegation to fewer or more mundane tasks compared to colleagues of another gender. The corresponding figure for male doctors is 10.4%.