These disparities in hours worked often translate into differing career trajectories, said Ami Shah, MD, a radiologist who serves on the AMA Women Physicians Section (WPS) Governing Council and is director of mammography and women's imaging at a hospital in New York City.
Dr. Shah, who was not involved in the study, worked part-time and was half of a dual-physician married couple while her son was young. That part-time stint in her career, she believes, contributed to the 17 years it took her to reach the director level. Meanwhile, Dr. Shah noted, a female colleague of hers delayed having a child until after she reached the director level and because of that was able to serve in that leadership capacity for a much longer stretch of her career.
It would be ideal, she said, if both parents in a dual-physician couple could take parental leave together so that neither’s career would be delayed more than the other.
But, she told AMA Wire®, “parental leave for fathers is a new concept and not accepted.” That social stigma can play a role in the working-hour gender disparity among dual-physician couples.
“After spending so much time in training, women are expected to toss that to the side to engage more in this amazing experience of raising a child,” Dr. Shah said. “In reality, if mothers and fathers were both allowed to contribute time and effort to raising a child, the woman’s career, lifetime income, ability to break glass ceilings—and everything else we are striving to achieve—wouldn’t be as hard.”
That is “one piece of the puzzle,” she said.
The AMA has endeavored to mitigate gender bias and create more family-friendly work environments for physicians and other health professionals, adopting policies on parental, family and medical necessity leave in 1988 and 2014. The Association also has long-standing policy “opposing sex discrimination in the medical profession” and supporting flexibly scheduled residencies.
Positioning for leadership
The question of how women can position themselves as physician leaders is the central theme of an upcoming webinar presented by Vineet Arora, MD, a board-certified internist, academic hospitalist, assistant dean of scholarship and discovery, and director of GME Clinical Learning Environment and Innovation at the University of Chicago.
During the webinar on Sept. 12, noon–1 p.m. CDT, Dr. Arora will describe common barriers faced by women physicians in obtaining leadership roles in academic medicine and medical practice and identify strategies that women in medicine can use to advance as leaders. 1.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ is available. Register.
Each September, the AMA Women Physicians Section (WPS) honors physicians who have offered their time, wisdom and support to advance women in medicine. Women in Medicine Month serves as a platform to showcase the accomplishments of women physicians and highlights advocacy needs related to professional concerns of women physicians and health issues impacting women patients. The AMA-WPS will mark Women in Medicine Day on Sept. 7. Find out more.