Women in medicine − is there a problem? A literature review of the changing gender composition, structures and occupational cultures in medicine
Article first published online: 12 DEC 2006
Volume 41, Issue 1, pages 39–49, January 2007
How to Cite
Kilminster, S., Downes, J., Gough, B., Murdoch-Eaton, D. and Roberts, T. (2007), Women in medicine − is there a problem? A literature review of the changing gender composition, structures and occupational cultures in medicine. Medical Education, 41: 39–49. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2929.2006.02645.x
- Issue published online: 12 DEC 2006
- Article first published online: 12 DEC 2006
- Received 14 April 2005; editorial comments to authors 15 June 2005, 7 November 2005; accepted for publication 21 June 2006
- physicians, women/*trends;
- clinical competence/*standards;
- health manpower/*organisation and administration;
- attitude of health personnel;
- educational status;
- physician–patient relations;
- review (publication type)
Background Internationally, there are increasing numbers of women entering medicine. Although all countries have different health care systems and social contexts, all still show horizontal (women concentrated in certain areas of work) and vertical (women under represented at higher levels of the professions) segregation. There is much discussion and competing explanations about the implications of the increasing numbers of women in the medical profession.
Aims The purpose of this review was to explore the evidence, issues and explanations to understand the effects of the changing composition of the medical profession.
Conclusions This review identified evidence that delineates some of the effects of gender on the culture, practice and organisation of medicine. There are problems with some of the research methodologies and we identify areas for further research. To understand the effects of the changing gender composition of medicine it will be necessary to use more sophisticated research designs to explore the structural, economic, historical and social contexts that interact to produce medical culture. This will provide a basis for exploring the impact and implications of these changes and has immediate relevance for workforce planning and understanding both the changing nature of health professions' education and health care delivery.