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SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574

SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. vol.101 no.4 Cape Town Abr. 2011




Feminisation of the medical profession



To the Editor: The recent editorial lamenting the failure of the profession to have become 'gender neutral' mentioned, but did not quantify, the lower productivity of female doctors.1

Six years ago, the independent hospitals in Britain organised a conference to discuss the long National Health Service waiting lists. One speaker, a Dr David Whitaker, said, 'The higher proportion of women doctors in Britain could aggravate matters. Female doctors currently work for 65% of their careers while male doctors work for 95%.'2 It consequently appears that the taxpayer, who largely pays for medical education, gets a poor return for his investment in female doctors. At that time I tried, and failed, to find comparable figures for South African doctors and for the other major professions.

We are repeatedly told that there is a shortage of doctors in South Africa and elsewhere. Is it not time, perhaps, for medical schools to reconsider the gender ratio of entrants into the MB BCh programme?


Stephen A Craven

Honorary Lecturer in Family Medicine
University of Cape Town


1. Ncayiyana DJ. Feminisation of the South African medical profession - not yet nirvana for gender equality. S Afr Med J 2011;101(1):5.         [ Links ]

2. Pallot P. Weekly Telegraph 20 - 26 April 2005;(717):36.         [ Links ]

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