Sunday 19 January 2020

Doctors delay having children for their career

Dr. Ann Hogan, President of the IMO Photo: Andrew Downes
Dr. Ann Hogan, President of the IMO Photo: Andrew Downes
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Nearly half of female doctors say they have delayed having children because of the impact that motherhood will have on their medical careers, a new survey has revealed.

Some male doctors also concede they have put off starting a family in a bid to balance workload with the responsibility of having children - but the number was much lower at 19pc.

More than eight in 10 female doctors said they worried about the implications of parenthood on their careers, the findings of the survey carried out by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) revealed.

The results were released at a conference in Dublin jointly hosted by the IMO and the Bar Council of Ireland which looked at what professional success means in both high-powered jobs.

Some 85pc of female doctors and 71pc of their male colleagues do not believe there are enough supports in the workplace to reduce the stress of balancing rearing a family with occupation.

The issue influences the kind of specialty that female doctors choose, with many opting for an area of medicine which allows job flexibility.

IMO President Dr Ann Hogan (right) 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.

"There is also some catch-up required regarding encouraging female doctors to apply for top consultant posts. They account for just 29pc of hospital consultants.

More male doctors are likely to be encouraged to climb the ladder and seek a hospital consultants post."

Only 15pc of the country's surgeons are female.

There are more females than males in psychiatry, but they are outranked in all other specialties.

Other findings revealed that more than one in five female trainee doctors experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past two years.

Some 12pc of male trainees also complained of being similarly harassed.

Dr Hogan commented: "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."

When it comes to the law, women are also outranked in the senior ranks. Just 16pc, or 229 females, have "taken silk" as a barrister.

Marguerite Bolger SC said: "Discrimination against women is recognised across many professions, not least in law and in medicine. As barristers, we particularly struggle with the self-employed nature of our work when challenging institutionalised discrimination.

"I have found, anecdotally, that women receive significant work satisfaction from working for a worthy or for a notable outcome, and from being seen as a recognised expert and as a 'go to' person.

"These are stronger motivations that financial reward."

She pointed to the need to achieve a level playing field.

Irish Independent

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