Why more women?

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    Why do you think more women are going into the medical field than ever before ? (in fact, we put in more applications than the men do now!)


    This is a fairly recent trend, so I’m not sure it can be explained entirely by more freedom in the workforce for women. what do you think?

    also, why are far less men applying? It’s dropped from 26,000 to 17,000. Why are they all leaving at a time when we’re joining? That’s a huge drop!!


    Yes, Drey, good question. Just to clarify, though, the year that men were 26987 of the applicants, women were about 20000 of the applicants. 1996 produced the highest number of applicants (almost 47000) and now there appears to be a recovery to around the 34000 figure. So there are 2 issues. After a significant drop in applicants overall, the trend of the last few years has produced a great increase in female applicants. See this chart for a 30 year trend.

    One thing I found interesting is that even in years where women were in the minority of the applicants, their acceptance rates did not vary too drastically from that of the men.

    In the 1974-5 year, in fact, of the 42700 applicants that year only 8700 were women. However, they were accepted at a rate of 38.9% whereas men were accepted at a rate of 34.4%. Ask any woman physician of those years and they’ll definitely let you know that they had to often be better candidates than the men!

    So, in view of the changes over the past decades, what are the opinions here about what is occurring with these applicant stats?

    Sethina, I believe, posted not too long ago a question about the “feminization” of medicine and the associated implications. What do you all see as the pros and cons of more women in medicine?


    My guess would be that being a doctor doesn’t pay the way it used to. You work very hard to become a doctor, spend a lot of time going through school, come out of it with a lot of debt, being on call, post-call, pre-call, etc….There are a lot of jobs that pay very well and require less hassle. My thought on this is that men tend to think more logical, and women more emotional. In some ways it doesn’t make sense for me to become a doctor, but it is what I want to be, so I will become one. 😀


    I don’t know why more women are entering medicine now than they have in the past. I see it as part of an upward trend of a lot of professions–including law, the “hard” (biology, chemistry, physics) sciences, the “soft” sciences (psychology, anthropology, sociology), and just about any other occupation.

    I know I’ve never felt limited in regards to my career and I think a lot of young (and older) women today don’t feel limited in what they can “be” when they grow up/or change careers if they’re older.

    Also, I think there has been a more recent trend in medical schools/medicine in general to emphasize the more caring/altruistic aspects of the profession, which are usually seen as feminine trait. I think it was Johns Hopkins University (but I’m not sure) that recently published a study on how most patients (of both genders) prefer female physicians because they listen to their patients more, spend more time with patients, etc.

    There’s also been a dangerous trend of the reverse–more men are choosing NOT to pursue higher education whether it’s bachelor’s degree or higher degree (Ph.D., law, medicine, etc.) I’ve seen reports in the news (although none very recently) asking where all the boys are! Maybe they’re at home cooking and cleaning waiting for us to bring home the bacon!



    Unfortunately, women are still dropping out of the professions at rates far beyond men’s. We’re still the ones, generally speaking, to compromise our careers to raise children. And men are still the ones expected by employers to shift home issues to wives, whether or not the wives work.

    My husband has one of those irritating officey jobs, the kind where they start paying you more when you start dressing better. He’d been promoted at a pretty startling pace, then boosted up to management after he married me and we bought a house. And then he told the head of IT — who lives a few blocks away and has 3 kids, no life — he’d be taking a month off after the birth of our daughter. Three months later, he ain’t management no more.

    This is fine with me, particularly since the job was nuts and they can’t take any salary away without a hell of a fight (ah, the joys of having the state as your employer), but it appears to be representative of how upper mgmt works around here. Standard cliches apply, you’re supposed to check your family life at the HR dept when you accept the promotion and prove you’re “serious”. And until that stupidity changes — or until more men tell management “keep ’em for yourself, monkeyboy,” when they come around with the golden handcuffs — I think we’ll keep seeing very high dropout rates for women.



    I wonder if the drop in men can be explained by taking jobs in other science and technology fields. It seems that there are more jobs now that allow you to do biological science work without an M.D. or PhD, such as biomedical engineering or chemical/pharmaceutical research. I think that a lot of new science jobs have opened up outside of academia, and that might be pulling people away that would have become doctors in the past.

    It’s interesting that you mention the men choosing not to persue higher education degress, because I know a lot of the women on this forum are married to or dating men who have BA’s or BS’s but no upper level degree. At the lab I currently work in, there are at least as many women if not more getting graduate degrees in bioinformatics and bioengineering. Interesting.

    As for more women doing it, I think StartingOver has a good point

    Also, I think there has been a more recent trend in medical schools/medicine in general to emphasize the more caring/altruistic aspects of the profession, which are usually seen as feminine trait.

    I hadn’t thought about that, but when I was touring medical schools, they do seem to be putting a lot more focus on patient oriented medicine and treating the patient rather than the disease.

    Do you think it’s a bad thing that we are losing our men even as we gain the women, or is it just different?

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