Women in medicine: historical perspectives and recent trends

Br Med Bull. 2015 Jun;114(1):5-15. doi: 10.1093/bmb/ldv007. Epub 2015 Mar 8.


Introduction: Women now outnumber men in British medical schools. This paper charts the history of women in medicine and provides current demographic trends.

Sources of data: A historical literature review and routinely collected data from Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Information Centre.

Areas of agreement: Clear gender differences are apparent in working practices, including greater likelihood of working part time and specializing in certain areas of medicine.

Areas of controversy: The increasing need to increase activity among the existing medical workforce is timely amidst a changing workforce demographic.

Growing points: Workforce planners, policymakers and Royal Colleges should continue to develop interventions that may reduce disparities in career choices, as well as considering ways to increase participation and activity.

Areas timely for developing research: Further research is needed to explore the cost-effectiveness of existing and future interventions in this field.

Keywords: medical staff; personnel staffing; physician gender; statistics and numerical data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / organization & administration
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling / trends
  • Physicians, Women / trends*
  • State Medicine / organization & administration
  • State Medicine / trends
  • United Kingdom