Gender and medical careers

Maturitas. 2011 Mar;68(3):264-7. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.09.010. Epub 2010 Oct 27.


The concerns about physicians' career advancement tend to be raised in gender terms, because women presently constitute close to and will soon form a majority of the medical students in most western societies. The question is to what extent female and male medical students and residents today make similar or different career and lifestyle choices? Two major mechanisms have been referred to as the reason for gender differences in career paths for physicians. The major theoretical framework tends to be the socialization or sex-role theory and later versions of this explanatory framework. The other mechanism referred to is structural and points to the barriers or the concrete support that women and men experience in making their career decisions. Studies of medical students in the UK and US have shown that women students expected family demands to hamper career plans, while male students were less influenced by family concerns. The importance of role models and mentors in setting the career goals of medical students and residents has recently confirmed early studies of the topic. A number of studies have documented that early negative experiences or lack of encouragement in medical school deter women from choosing surgery as a career. Recent studies suggest that lifestyle choices rather than merely career advancement influence both female and male surgeons' career plans.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Career Mobility
  • Europe
  • Family
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • General Surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine*
  • Mentors
  • Schools, Medical
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Students, Medical*
  • United States