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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

The US is now sharply divided on many important questions, and physicians are part of the dialogue. We asked physicians for their opinions on 10 controversial social issues that Americans feel strongly about — how they stand, their relative importance, and how each issue has affected their work lives and families.

The gender pay gap persists for women physicians, who see gender discrimination affect staff and patients more often than their male counterparts do. The potential impacts of gender discrimination are important for all physicians to understand.

Over 2340 physicians in more than 29 specialties gave their takes on gender discrimination and other current social issues.

(Note: Some totals in this presentation do not equal 100% due to rounding.)

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Although gender discrimination is a more important issue to women physicians than their male counterparts, it does not seem to be one of the top-priority issues for doctors generally. Of 10 social issues in our survey, it was ninth in being chosen among physicians' most important, trailing gun control, domestic violence, and climate change among others.

Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, president of the American Medical Women's Association, says that women physicians "in general are very caring people and tend to be more enthusiastic about issues that affect patients, families, and our communities than ourselves. We may also not see or recognize the gravity of gender discrimination until it happens to us."

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Why New England physicians tend to see gender discrimination as an important issue more often is also supported by a recent study on gender equality by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. When it comes to women's rights and opportunities, this study ranks Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire highest among the states.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Women physicians are substantially more likely than their male counterparts to have experienced, or known someone who has experienced, gender discrimination from a work colleague.

Gender discrimination persists in the US, as many studies and reports make clear. The challenges that women physicians face don't appear to ease with age and seniority, these studies and reports show.

(Responses of "unsure" are not shown in the chart.)

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians expressed a wide range of opinions on and complaints about gender discrimination in healthcare.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

About one third of physicians say either they or an acquaintance have experienced gender discrimination by a patient.

(Responses of "unsure" are not shown in the chart.)

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Physicians also have a lot to say about when gender discrimination affects patient care.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

More than one quarter of physicians say they are aware of a wage discrepancy based on gender, either at a current or former job.

A recent Health Affairs analysis estimated that over a simulated 40-year medical career, women physicians would earn $2 million, or 25%, less than male physicians, after accounting for specialty, hours, location, and years of experience. The study looked at incomes in both academic and community practice settings.

(Responses of "unsure" are not shown in the chart.)

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

The importance that physicians assign to gender discrimination does not seem to vary as they pass middle age.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Why do far more women physicians feel that gender discrimination affects them or their families? Perhaps because women often are still the primary caregivers, and many employers still follow a rigid work schedule that makes it difficult for a parent to get home, says Judith Heller, vice president of physician recruiting at Northwell Health.

"At Northwell…we have adjusted some full-time positions so physicians can work 4 days a week or 0.8 FTE [full-time equivalent] instead of 1 FTE, which allows the workday to end sooner," she says.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Although strong majorities of male and female physicians say US society has advanced on the gender discrimination front, women more often feel there is work to be done.

"We have a female chief medical officer but only two female department chairs of all the physician specialties. While it's a big deal to have a woman CMO, I would like to see more women as department chairs," says Heller.

"It doesn't surprise me that women still think we have a lot of work to do. I think the opportunities are there but often women need to reach for them more. Women may tend to think that certain positions are beyond their grasp rather than 'I want the chair or leadership role; whom do I need to talk to to make that happen?'"

(Neutral responses are not shown in the charts.)

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

Volunteering is one of the leading avenues for physicians to fight gender discrimination. Rohr-Kirchgraber sees women physicians committing a lot of their time as volunteer committee members at the American Medical Women's Association. "They're still volunteering 15-20 years later," she says.

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How Medical Organizations Are Addressing Gender Discrimination

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

How Medical Organizations Are Addressing Gender Discrimination

The American Medical Women's Association creates opportunities for women to become leaders and advocates for gender equity in equal pay, career advancement, and other areas.

The leadership of the Association of American Medical Colleges has called on the academic medicine community to address gender inequities at their institutions. In particular, the AAMC focuses on gender equity in the physician and scientific workforce, leadership and compensation, research, and recognition.

The American College of Physicians has published a position statement with recommendations for achieving gender equity and lists 10 ways physicians can affect gender equity in medicine.

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

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Medscape Physicians' Views on Gender Discrimination Issues Report 2022: Strong Emotions, Contrary Opinions

Christine Lehmann | July 8, 2022 | Contributor Information

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