University Survey Finds That Physicians Who Are Mothers Face Widespread Workplace Discrimination

A survey by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that as many as four out of every five women physicians who are mothers, have experienced discrimination in the workplace. Nearly 78 percent of the respondents in a survey of almost 6,000 physician mothers reported some form of workplace discrimination. The perceived discrimination ranged from disrespect, reduced pay, being overlooked for promotions, or being held to higher performance standards.

The survey found that 66 percent of mothers who are physicians reported gender discrimination and 36 percent reported maternal discrimination. Nearly a third said they had experienced discrimination relating to pregnancy or maternity leave and 17 percent said they faced discrimination relating to breastfeeding.

To combat gender-based discrimination while retaining high-quality physicians, the researchers recommend that employers implement policies such as longer paid maternity leaves, backup child care, lactation support, and schedule flexibility.

Eleni Linos, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and a co-author of the study, notes that “physician mothers treat patients, raise children, teach students and care for sick relatives and friends. But who looks after them? We need to make sure these women get fair and unbiased treatment at the workplace. The role of physician mothers is essential and we can’t afford to lose them to burnout.”

Dr. Linos is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Oxford University School of Medicine. She holds a master’s degree and a doctorate in public health from Harvard University.

The study, “Perceived Discrimination Experienced by Physician Mothers and Desired Workplace Changes: A Cross-sectional Survey,” was published on the website of JAMA Internal Medicine. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: DiscriminationResearch/Study


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