Historically, women were limited when it came to career choices and medicine was certainly not a career a woman could even consider pursuing. The few women who did show an interest in pursuing a career in medicine were ridiculed and their applications to join universities in the UK were rejected outright.
It wasn’t until the late 1800’s that women were permitted to attend British universities to train as doctors. Since an act was passed in parliament towards the end of the 19th Century, the number of female medics has increased rapidly and modern women now have the option to pursue a career in all fields of medicine.
What proportion of medics in the UK is female?
Since the early 1990’s the number of female medical students has been greater than the number of male medical students and it is estimated that women doctors will outnumber their male counterparts within the next ten years. A study carried out in 2009 found that 40 percent of doctors were female, 42 percent of GPs were women and 28 percent of consultants were women.
Which specialities do female medics choose?
Women pursue careers in all fields of medicine but some are much more popular with women doctors than others; general practice, public health, paediatrics and psychiatry are popular with women, while surgical specialities, accident and emergency and anaesthesia are much less popular with female doctors than their male colleagues.
One of the major reasons why women doctors pursue careers in public health and general practice is that they offer more flexible working hours, which fit in with family life and enable parents to adapt their working schedule to suit bringing up children. These careers also have the added benefit that they do not generally involve working in the evenings or on weekends.