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Research reveals alarming medical workforce gender inequality in Ireland

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The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has released research that shows Irish female doctors face many unfair challenges due to their gender, including bullying and family pressures slowing their career progression when compared to their male equivalents.

IMO President Dr Ann Hogan said: “It is obvious from the research that gender still continues to impact on careers in the medical profession with family considerations often affecting female practitioners to a greater extent than their male colleagues.”

The research showed nearly half (46 per cent) of female medical practitioners have delayed having children for reasons related to their careers in medicine, compared to just 19 per cent of male medical practitioners.

Eighty-five per cent of female doctors do not believe that existing workplace supports adequately provide for an opportunity to balance medical workloads with family commitments. Seventy-one per cent of male doctors agree with this.

The report also found 28 per cent of female NCHDs report having experience gender-based bullying in the workplace during the last two years, while 6 per cent of male NCHDs report the same.

“It is obvious that female doctors’ experiences of gender-based bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment differ greatly from male doctors’ experiences. This is an indictment for our profession and must be addressed,” Dr Hogan said.

Unfortunately the findings of the IMO are mirrored in many countries. A recent report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found a third of women physicians reported being sexually harassed while for men, the number was 4 per cent.

The AMA believes that sexual harassment in the medical workplace is unacceptable. Sexual harassment affects physical and mental health, and undermines performance and professionalism in the workplace. Further, sexual harassment can influence career choice and career progression.

A copy on the AMA position paper on sexual harassment in the medical workplace can be found at: position-statement/sexual-harassment-medical-workplace

Meredith Horne