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For better or for worse? Women doctors at the end of the decade

, : For better or for worse? Women doctors at the end of the decade. New Zealand Medical Journal 100(820): 176-179

The position of women doctors at the beginning of the UN Decade for Women (1976-1985) is compared with their position at its end. In 1985 women made up over 20% of all practising doctors, 34% of the house surgeons, 27% of the registrars and 27% of the psychiatric specialists in New Zealand. While women now make up half of the second year entrants at the University of Otago, they account for only a small proportion of the teachers. At Dunedin the proportion of women teachers has changed little over the decade. Indeed, if psychiatrists are excluded, the proportion of women teachers is slightly lower at the end of the decade than in 1975, 1965 or 1955. Several major university departments at Dunedin-general practice, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and surgery-list no women clinical teachers. The position is much the same at the Christchurch and Wellington clinical schools. Half of the women teachers at the three University of Otago schools are psychiatrists. Among hospital specialists in New Zealand men are about three times as likely as women to be promoted above the bar in the specialists' salary scale. The present system of postgraduate training effectively culls many of the women doctors who have children before they have acquired a postgraduate qualification, by severely limiting their subsequent career options. The same system encourages women doctors to have their children late, and probably deters some medical women from having children at all. Many Dunedin women students entering 2nd year classes in Dunedin are unaware of the potential problems which they may encounter at postgraduate level.


PMID: 3452037

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