Objective: To examine how having children affects the hours spent by male and female family physicians on professional activities and on unwaged domestic work.
Design: Survey fielded between September 1993 and February 1994.
Participants: All Ontario-based physicians certificated by the College of Family Physicians of Canada between 1989 and 1991 after completing a family medicine residency.
Main outcome measures: Self-reported hours spent per week on professional activities and unwaged domestic work.
Results: Response rate was 70%; men and women were equally likely to respond. About half (47.7%) had children at home. Women with children at home spent fewer hours on professional activities (P < 0.001) than men with children, whose hours of professional activity were similar to hours of men without children. Both women and men with children reported spending more time on household maintenance than did those without children. Among physicians with children, although men spent time on child care (mean time 11.4 hours; SD 11), women spent much more time on it (mean time 39.7 hours; SD 21; P < 0.001). The women worked an average of 90.5 hours per week in professional and unwaged activities; men averaged 68.6 hours. Childless physicians worked fewer hours: men 54.1, women 52.6.
Conclusions: Female physicians with children at home spend more time on child care and household maintenance than their male partners. These responsibilities reduce professional work time (at least until all children are at school full time) and might deter women from active involvement in professional organizations.