Unveiling gender disparities in medicine


Grace Ferguson, MD, MPH, generalist ob-gyn at Allegheny Health Network, sheds light on gender-based discrepancies in medicine, emphasizing both progress and persistent challenges.

There are notable gender-based disparities in medicine, according to an interview with Grace Ferguson, MD, MPH, generalist ob-gyn at Allegheny Health Network.

Ferguson highlighted the statistics indicating gender disparities in medicine. Awareness about gender disparity has improved, leading to many metrics improving. However, others remain lacking, with a pay disparity between 20% and 30% between women and men.

These disparities have been found in primary care, surgical subspecialties, and in ob-gyn. Additionally, only about 20% of department chairs are women.

This impacts long-term career success, with women having to choose between family care management or remaining in their job. Ferguson is a mother of 2 children and must balance her career with family care. This is especially difficult in medicine, which leaves less time for self-care than many other fields.

Ferguson has found working in ob-gyn makes managing these struggles easier compared to other specialties. Many practitioners in ob-gyn are women, including the chair of Ferguson’s department. Ferguson said she feels shared compassion between herself and the other faculty in her department, understanding when a faculty member may need time for self-care or childcare.

Ferguson recommended sharing the numbers to increase awareness about gender disparities in medicine. Data has indicated medicine performed by women is equal or sometimes better than medicine performed by men. Therefore, alongside proper compensation for women, valuing their work should also be considered.

It is no longer surprising to see a women doctor, Ferguson noted. However, while most women in medicine are likely receiving a good salary, it should also be considered whether their salary is fair. During Women’s History Month, the collective history of gender disparities in all fields should be remembered.

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