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Women Doctors Face Higher Levels of Harassment, Frustration: Survey

TUESDAY, Oct. 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Many female family doctors face sexual harassment, but most remain satisfied with their careers, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed 315 women physicians in family practices from 49 countries and found that 75% said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied with their work conditions and their career.

"Despite all obstacles in the work environment, especially regarding the pay and administrative burden and lack of personal time, women family physicians are satisfied with their careers," said study author Jumana Antoun, an associate professor/clinical specialty in the family medicine department at American University of Beirut.

However, 56% said it was difficult or very difficult to advance in their careers, and only 39% said their work conditions and career satisfaction was similar to their male colleagues.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the female doctors said they experienced general sexist remarks and behaviors in their training or work, 45% reported inappropriate sexual advances, and 22% reported coercive advances.

There were no country- or income-related differences in the overall satisfaction of the women physicians, according to the study published Oct. 19 in the journal Family Practice.

"It is possible that they pursued this specialty for intrinsic qualities of the family medicine specialty and connection with patients rather than reasons of money and status," Antoun said in a journal news release. "Nevertheless, this does not mean that employers should not work on improving their work environment and make it safer and equitable with men doctors."

The proportion of women in family medicine is increasing -- they accounted for about 54% of U.S. family medicine residents in 2019 -- so their well-being and job satisfaction is important, particularity given the scarcity of family medicine physicians, according to the researchers.

It noted that female primary care doctors earn 18% less than their male counterparts, and that women have higher burnout rates and more obstacles to promotion, leadership opportunities, sponsorships and mentorships.

More information

The Association of American Medical Colleges outlines how the nation's physician workforce is changing.

SOURCE: Family Practice, news release, Oct. 19, 2021

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