'Childcare blocks women in work'
The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony, says a lack of affordable childcare remains a "key barrier" to more women entering the workforce.
And for those working in obstetrics, anecdotal evidence suggests women are "deferring childbirth" to accommodate the intensive study and training involved.
"In a recent report by Ibeq, childcare and taxation emerge as the two key barriers to female inclusion in the workforce.
"It is clear that on industrial wage in Ireland, the cost and lack of availability of childcare, particularly pre-school childcare, are prohibitive at a time when career development and experience accrued reach critical levels," said Dr Mahony.
Delivering this year's Doolin Memorial Lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons yesterday, she stressed it is "politically imperative" that struggling parents receive greater support.
She cited a recent survey of obstetric trainees - the majority of whom are women - which found that just 3pc would recommend a career in their chosen field to a family member.
Overall working conditions, spiralling medical negligence claims, being named in complaints, as well as the "constant and personalised" nature of media reporting, are among leading concerns.
One of Europe's largest maternity hospitals, the NMH cares for 10,000 pregnant women annually.