Research has shown that women physicians work fewer hours and are more likely to become inactive professionally and to switch to part-time labor, compared with their male counterparts. The published literature suggests that a gender disparity still exists in medicine which may decrease work motivation among women physicians. The authors investigated whether the experience and the perception of gender-based career obstacles among women physicians in Japan are associated with their working status (i.e., full-time vs. part-time). The present cross-sectional study is based on surveys of alumnae from 13 private medical schools in Japan conducted between June 2009 and May 2011. Of those who agreed to participate in this study, 1684 completed a self-administered questionnaire (overall response rate 83%). Experience of gender-based obstacles was considered affirmative if a woman physician had been overlooked for opportunities of professional advancement based on gender. Perception of gender-based obstacles referred to the self-reported degree of difficulty of promotion and opportunities for a position in higher education. Approximately 20% of the study participants responded that they experienced gender-based obstacles while 24% answered that they were not sure. The scores for perception of gender-based career obstacles were statistically higher among part-time workers compared with full-time workers (mean difference = 1.20, 95% CI: 0.39-2.00). Adjusting for age, marital status, the presence of children, workplace, board certification, holding a PhD degree, overall satisfaction of being a physician, and household income, stepwise logistic regression models revealed that physicians with the strongest perception of gender-based career obstacles were more likely to work part-time rather than full-time (OR, 0.59; 95% CI: 0.40-0.88). Although the experience of gender-based obstacles was not associated with working status among women physicians, the results demonstrated that a strong perception of gender-based obstacles was associated with part-time practice rather than full-time practice.
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