Being a working mom is very common in our society. However, instead of being celebrated for being strong and accomplished in multiple areas, many of these women experience workplace discrimination, particularly in the field of medicine. A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that close to 80 percent of women doctors who are mothers have experienced workplace discrimination.
Researchers surveyed 6,000 female doctors with children, with various medical specialties. Almost two-thirds of women reported gender discrimination, while one-third reported discrimination specifically related to their motherhood. Maternal discrimination is generally defined as any discrimination stemming from pregnancy, breastfeeding or maternity leave. Out of the women experiencing maternal discrimination, a majority found the discrimination to be connected with pregnancy or maternity leave. Close to 50 percent reported it to be related to breastfeeding.
How does this discrimination occur? The most common form of discrimination named in the survey was being disrespected by nurses and other support staff. Other women reported being left out of important decisions on the administrative end, and unequal pay. The study also revealed that this workplace discrimination can cause burnout among physicians. Generally, female doctors are more likely to feel at-risk for burning out than male doctors.
It is necessary to encourage female physicians to continue to be a part of the health care industry. Workers in the medical field are aging and the Association of American Medical Colleges expects a significant drop in the number of physicians in the U.S. by the year 2025. Additionally, studies have shown that women doctors are more optimistic about medicine and may even offer better patient care than male doctors. This shows us how important it is to fight workplace discrimination and make sure that women doctors are treated fairly at work.
Source: NPR, "Doctors Who Are Moms Say They Face Discrimination At Work," Alexandra Sowa, May 15, 2017