A recent survey published by JAMA Internal Medicine, 4 out of 5 respondents out of nearly 6,000 physician mothers surveyed reported experiencing discrimination, either in reaction to gender or maternity. While there were limitations to the design study, and there is a possibility that respondents may have self-selected to some degree, the survey quantifies what many female doctors have been reporting for years.
Anecdotal evidence of gender or maternity discrimination in medicine has been around for a while, much of it logged in social media support spaces like Physician Moms Group. Some women have reported disrespectful treatment by nurses and other medical staff once they became pregnant or needed to breastfeed, for example. Others have reported being asked outright if they planned to become pregnant and leave their positions.
Survey respondents identified several workplace changes they said could help reduce burnout or maternity discrimination. Some of those items include:
- More flexible schedules
- Longer maternity leave
- Backup child care
- Workplace lactation provisions
Female physicians who have children deserve to be treated with the same respect as male physicians who become fathers. When discrimination is present in a medical environment, it can hurt not only the careers of the targeted physicians, but also the patients who may suffer from reduced access to quality medical care. Those who face gender or maternity discrimination on the job can benefit from speaking with an experienced employment law attorney who can clarify and protect their rights.