Gender Bias In Medicine

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Medical specialties like surgery are still seen as hostile to many female doctors. (Boston Public Library)
Medical specialties like surgery are still seen as hostile to many female doctors. (Boston Public Library)

Look into any operating room and odds are it will be a man wielding the scalpel. Women are making great gains in medicine, but many disciplines and many senior management jobs in the medical world are male-dominated. Consider neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons: fewer than 5 percent of them are female.

And it isn't just exclusion. There's a lot of outright hostility. Explicit gender discrimination was alleged in the big $7 million settlement awarded last month to Dr. Carol Warfield against the former chief of surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Then there's money. A study published in 2011 found that women across the entire medical field are paid less and promoted more slowly than their male counterparts.

We'll dig into the issues and take a look at changes underway to shift the balance.


Margaret Cary, a physician and leadership coach for physician executives, she authored a chapter in the new book Lessons Learned: Stories from Women in Medical Management.

Jennifer Rosen, assistant professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine.


Boston Globe "The explicit gender discrimination alleged in a high-profile lawsuit settled for $7 million this month against Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and its former chief of surgery is rare in Boston hospitals, according to 10 female surgeons interviewed by the Globe. Still, female surgeons can experience subtler obstacles, including pressure to behave a certain way and conflicting family responsibilities."

Forbes "Dr. Young is one of 24 female M.D.s whose life stories appear in “Lessons Learned: Stories From Women in Medical Management.” It’s a fascinating and timely book, chronicling the victories, setbacks and personal growth of an ambitious cohort. The book’s overriding message: the path to success isn’t a straight line. Everyone in Lessons Learned has worked through trouble at some point, becoming a stronger manager and a more resilient person by doing so."

Boston Globe "It is also clear that Fischer had an abrasive personality. Even his greatest admirers describe him as difficult. He was known for pushing out colleagues he didn’t like. Over his 23-year career in Cincinnati, he was named in lawsuits alleging age discrimination, filed by a 60-year-old director of the Division of Neurosurgery; disability discrimination, filed by the executive director of an organ transplant center who took leave for a mental illness; and sex discrimination, filed by a female dental assistant who accused a dentist working under Fischer of harassing her and retaliating against her when she complained. (Only one suit — the sex discrimination case — prevailed.)"

This segment aired on March 14, 2013.


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