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war on women

Are there too many women in OB/GYN?

The LA Times recently published a piece on the lack of men in OB/GYN. Only 17% of new trainees (residents) in OB/GYN are men and the male OB/GYN physicians who weighed in worried that this “lack of diversity could weaken the field.” Apparently it sends a “horrible message to men” and with the lack of men we might “lose the next person who is going to find a cure for cancer.”

I have some thoughts.

The first one is 55% of pediatric residents in 1990 were women and currently 75% of pediatric residents are women yet I have never once heard any pediatrician talk about how that might prevent us from the next big breakthrough in pediatrics. I’ve never read an article on how the gender discrepancy in pediatrics or family medicine or psychiatry (the latter two also female dominated as approximately 57% of trainees in both are women) impacts those fields either. Then again those fields tend to pay less than OB/GYN.

Is is just acesss to higher paying jobs that is bad for men? Hmmm.

My second thought is I have not read any think pieces on how the dearth of women in the areas of medicine that are still male dominated, such as neurosurgery, affects advances. No one there seems to worry that the lack of woman brain hampers much of anything.

I could just leave it at that, but I’m me and today is International Women’s Day so buckle up.

There are more medical role models top to bottom for men than women

My medical training was 1986-1996. In medical school the only lectures I received from women were given by basic scientists (Ph.D.s not M.D.s) and pathologists. I was never given a lecture by a female surgeon or cardiologist or even a female OB/GYN. Maybe there was one and I was sick that day. I never had one textbook authored or edited by a woman. A chapter written by a woman was a treat.

When I did an elective in the U.K. in 1990 and heard that they referred to surgeons as “Mr.” I asked a male surgeon what that called female surgeons. His answer? There aren’t any.

In my residency there were three female OB/GYNs out of a department of about 20.

During my 10 years of training I never met one female surgeon. Not one. Most of the faculty in all fields were men. I never heard of a female chief of a department never mind meeting one. Not just of OB/GYN, of any department.

What about now? Are there men in leadership positions so male trainees at least have someone to look up to when they take a break from the textbooks largely written by men? The most recent data tells us that for OB/GYN 79.4% of department heads or chairs, 64.9% of vice chairs, and 71.4% of division directors are men. The American Congress of OB/GYN (ACOG) elected its first female President in 1984. In 65 years they have had 5 female Presidents.

The Royal College of OB/GYN in the U.K. has its first ever female President.

Patient Preference 

Some women will ask to see a female provider and this bias will be greatest against medical students. This is new. When I trained most providers were men so there was no choice. The few times there were women providers the female patients were less empowered to speak up. Women now have more power to say what they want. That is not a bad thing.

If men in medical school or OB/GYN residencies are working a little harder to overcome some biases then I can assure them from my personal experience that it will make them a kinder, better doctor because they will learn how to gain a patient’s confidence that much quicker. I think every woman of my generation who has been called a “little miss” by a patient and been asked to step aside so the man (a.k.a. real doctor) could do the procedure has some empathy for the situation some men in OB/GYN face today. Although at least men are not sexually decredentialed as they step aside.

It is interesting to hear women who have had bad experiences with doctors talk about their providers. In my experience when they were unhappy and the provider was a woman she was “uncaring” or a “bad doctor.”  The men, well, they just “didn’t understand.” That is how systemic our biases are against women.

Sexual Assault and General Demeaning Talk

I’m not sure how many men in OB/GYN have had their scrotum cupped by a female attending in the operating room, but I have certainly been positioned next to a male surgeon so his arm rubbed against my breast for an hour or so. I’ve had more hands run up and down my back and I’ve been corned, literally pushed up into a corner, by a male surgeon trying goad me into letting him drive me home late at night. I’ve also had a tongue stuck down my throat. I know that many men in medicine have been sexually assaulted, but I believe the numbers pale in comparison to the female experience.

Then there were all the times male surgeons and even OB/GYNs spoke about hockey or golf in the operating room in a pointed or “humorous” attempt to exclude me from the conversation. Or the good times when the men in the operating room joked about not knowing how to talk about knitting!

Ha ha.

This not specific to OB/GYN, but just to demostrate some of the additional barriers women experience.

Pregnancy Bias

I have heard story after story of women being turned down or passed over for training positions because they might get pregnant or because they (God forbid) had a pregnancy in residency. A friend of mine wanted to be a neurosurgeon. She applied to a variety of programs in Canada. She was conditionally accepted into what was considered one of the best programs. The condition? She sign a contract stating she would not get pregnant during her residency. This was in 1989. Not 1889, 1989.

I bet not one man in any medical school or residency ever has been asked about his plans for procreation.

Job Bias  

If you thought being a woman in OB/GYN brings bigger bucks you would be wrong.

Male doctors who get awards from the National Institute of Health make $13,399 more per year than women doctors (controlled for specialty, academic rank, leadership positions, and number of publications). It’s not about pregnancy or kids either as women with no children still had lower salaries than their male counterparts.

In academic medicine OB/GYN ranks the 4th worst (out of 18 fields) for a gender pay gap. Women in OB/GYN earn $36,390 per year less than men in an adjusted analysis.

Overall (so not just in a university setting) women in OB/GYN make $48,000 less on average than men. This specific data set didn’t control for number of hours worked, however, looking at all the other studies on gender pay gap in medicine that do control for hours worked and other factors it is very likely the pay gap still exists.

If indeed women are taking jobs away from men in OB/GYN they are only taking away  the lower paying ones freeing men up to stay in the higher paying positions.

It is still harder for women in medicine. Period.

When there hasn’t been a male President of ACOG for 10 years and all OB/GYN textbooks are written by women and no one asks me if I am a nurse or forgets to call me doctor when they introduce me at a professional function and when women out earn men in OB/GYN and have 80% of the leadership positions and when opinion pieces about the dearth of women in surgery and the excess of women in pediatrics fill our newspapers and when men are asked about their procreation plans at interviews I will be concerned that OB/GYN has developed a gender diversty problem. However, as the women I have worked with in medicine tend to be concerned with all stake holdeers equally and support parity because they have been on the receiving end of inequality I doubt we will ever see that kind of bleak, all female future.

It is true that most residents in OB/GYN are women, but a man who wants to go into OB/GYN will never, ever face the systemic oppression and bias and lack of role models that women have faced and still face today. Any man in OB/GYN on graduating residency will likely end up with a higher paying job than the women he trained with and history tells us he won’t seem to mind. After all, if men in OB/GYN minded so much about the gender pay gap we wouldn’t have one because they have always been, and are still, the ones in charge.

 

 

*** This post has been updated to reflect there have been 5 women Presidents at ACOG in 65 years, not 4 as originally stated***

Discussion

56 thoughts on “Are there too many women in OB/GYN?

  1. Not sure how “correct” my thinking is but I for one (full disclosure: feminist, 65 years of age, 3 children delivered by men owing to a dearth of female obgyn docs at that time in my home town, and none were happy experiences – the only empathy in the labour and delivery rooms came from the (female) nurses) have always wondered about men who want to be OBGYN doctors. What the hell is that all about?

    Posted by thisoldchick (Paula) | March 8, 2018, 3:08 pm
    • I think men who want to become OB/Gyn doctors probably find obstetrics/gynecology interesting and want to help women. I’m a woman who works in women’s health and that’s been my reason for following this career path, why does there have to be something suspect about a man who wants to do the same? Your thinking is insulting and immature.

      Posted by RKay | March 12, 2018, 3:42 pm
      • You are showing some Internalized misogyny, my dear. I am 60, and my experience of male ob-gyns is that–to a man–they are subtly sexist and pro-natal, and many seem to be ultra-right-wing promoters of fertility: the woman-as-uterus-with-a-shell-around-it mentality. I spent 35 years in academic medicine and never once saw an exception to this there. The few exceptions outside that world were brave male physicians who were willing to risk their lives to perform abortions because they genuinely cared about women’s health and children’s futures. On the day-to-day clinical level, never. Some were a bit weird, too; I was inappropriately touched by a male doctor. There’s more to it than magnanimity. Don’t kid yourself.

        Posted by Sara | March 22, 2018, 8:45 pm
      • I’ve had multiple male gynecologists (and known another socially) and, to a man, they were kind, competent, and pro-choice. So maybe we shouldn’t generalize about thousands of physicians based on the experiences of a single individual, whether it is you or me.

        It’s not internalized misogyny to recognize that many male doctors who work in OB/GYN do so because they enjoy that branch of medicine and want to provide quality care to their patients.

        Posted by Wehaf | March 23, 2018, 1:35 pm
  2. It make sense that most women would want a female doctor–someone who could relate. On a side note, it’s sad that a doctor wouldn’t know the difference between “loose” and “lose.”

    Posted by DTaylor | March 8, 2018, 3:43 pm
  3. Sorry. It is minor and I thought you were quoting someone else.

    Posted by DTaylor | March 8, 2018, 3:52 pm
  4. AMEN!!

    Posted by calijones | March 8, 2018, 4:01 pm
  5. Excellent as usual! I’m 42 and still get questions about my age and qualifications when discussing surgery. Husbands frequently ask if I’m really the one who will be doing the surgery.

    Posted by Tiffany Rhodes | March 8, 2018, 4:01 pm
    • I hear ya! I’m a dentist and stopped wearing scrubs because so many patients would assume I was a dental assistant. They would ask when the dentist was coming to see them as I was doing their exam -___-

      Posted by Simi | March 10, 2018, 7:45 am
  6. I started at UNSW (Sydney Australia) in 1971, almost 50% of the class of 250 were women. I’ve been an OBGYN since 1985, after six years of postgrad training. Around 70% of trainees in Australia are now women. It’s a natural tendency of people choosing their preferred vocation. I’ve also worked in a teaching hospital where the staff were 85% women and the reverse sexism was stifling. I had to leave after six months. The training schedules, work hours and flexibility are all very different to when I was training. It’s a very multifactorial situation, as is much of real life. Personality differences, ego trippers, control freaks and power brokers don’t make it any easier. I’m glad I’m retiring this year. 🙂

    Posted by Phil Watters | March 8, 2018, 4:06 pm
  7. Great article, as always! Fight on!

    Posted by Karen Granzella | March 8, 2018, 4:20 pm
  8. This is surprisingly mild for one of your posts.

    I cannot even begin to talk about how many female patients want to be seen by female ob/gynes. Especially teens who are uncomfortable seeing males, no matter how empathetic.

    Urologists are almost all male and often misdiagnose a life threatening ovarian torsion as a kidney stone that needs to be passed. Like I said don’t get me started…

    Posted by Doc | March 8, 2018, 4:22 pm
  9. After years of uterine issue I was so so extremely grateful for the Female Surgeon I was referred to. First of all I did not need to elaborate on my laundry list of symptoms, (and from hindsight the list was much longer than I thought,I also did not get told I had to try a variety of alternate treatments before going directly to surgery. Women, at least some, get it when you say I AM DONE.

    Posted by Sheila | March 8, 2018, 4:26 pm
  10. 59 yo here. My first medical experience “down there” was with a male pediatrician checking that all “OK there.” Mom not in room and as a teen was embarrassed as hell. But at 14, how to express that? Flash forward to 19, and male OB-GYN insisting I had had sex. I hadn’t and explain end that I was using two tampons at a time (plus heavy-duty pad) because my periods were, well, epic. He didn’t want to hear that and continued to insist I was having sex. No mention of terrible periods. He was rough and it hurt. Never went back
    28, and a female OB-GYN. Cramps drove me back. Suddenly my heavy period was a real issue to an MD. Yes, the work-up was embarrassing. And my doc was training new docs, but nobody came I to the exam room w/o my OK, and doc said it WAS OK to say, “no.” I did a couple of times. There was one young woman who just creeped me out.
    Long story, but she found the trouble. And she saw me through first pregnancy. She could not be there for delivery but new intern had her first delivery with my daughter.
    To me losing males in OB-GYN is not a problem.

    Posted by msdonnarl | March 8, 2018, 4:36 pm
  11. I am 71 and had my 4 children – 3 pregnancies – with a male doctor in San Francisco some 40 years ago. There were no female OB/GYNs. My doctor chided me when I broached the subject of an unfulfilling sex life – “you need to show more equanimity,” whatever that meant. When he squeezed an ovary during a routine pelvic exam and I almost fell off the table in pain, he assured me it didn’t hurt because there are no nerves “there.” I never went back to him, and fortunately found a wonderful female doctor who provided excellent care.
    Thank you for your excellent columns, Dr Jen!

    Posted by Cathy | March 8, 2018, 6:45 pm
    • Until I was in my 40s all my gyn experiences were with male physicians. I remember one telling me that I had beautiful breast and should wear a sleep bra. Another misdiagnosed a condition and I suffered through uncomfortable treatments. I had a questionable pap so had a colposcopy. I experienced terrible pain and was told by the male MD that it didn’t hurt. Never again. Since then I have been to wonderful female gyn doctors. I would be very uncomfortable with a male.

      Posted by Barbara Pagura | March 9, 2018, 10:43 am
  12. Jeanne Conry (2015) and Lisa Hollier (2018) are/were both ACOG presidents and women in the last 10 years. As were Vivian Dickerson and Vicky Selzer. And Luella Klein.

    Posted by samia reddy | March 8, 2018, 7:23 pm
  13. Thanks for sharing. Disheartening but I suppose not surprising. For what it’s worth, as a patient I strongly prefer female docs. Hopefully generational changes and patient preferences will lead to female physicians getting the respect they deserve.

    Posted by Megan | March 8, 2018, 9:37 pm
  14. Hello Dr. Gunter, dear Jen,

    I am a woman, a mother of a 3 year old daughter that is driving us nuts with age-inappropriate rapid fire questions, a science lover and follower of yours from Germany.

    I just want to let you know that I love your blog, I smile every time an email appears in my inbox and rub my hands in anticipation of who will get their just desert served this time. Please, please, please never stop blogging! The world needs you and the likes of you. We need more people shouting the truth and the science from the rooftops, we need more people and especially women doing everything they can to annoy the crap out of Goop and their evil non-scientists, more people to save unknowing woman from the weird and dangerous things those esoteric charlatans try to sell and make women do, and insert into their vagina, and more people fighting against biases, gender pay gaps and for gender equality.

    I want my daughter to grow up in a world that is safe for her physical and mental health, and not treating her as a unknowing, undeserving only woman that cannot decide for her own (body). You and people like you are so important for making this world a better and safer place.

    Thank you.

    Blog on! Rock on! Judith Kühlthau

    Sent using the free GMX iPhone App

    Posted by Judith Bombach | March 9, 2018, 12:51 am
  15. Too many women in OB/GYN or any other medical field for that matter, is a ridiculous thing to have to address. Male dominance in EVERY field and overall has been talked about, but things haven’t really been done about it.

    As to OB/GYN men can study all they want to but they can never understand how it feels to have a period, have pms, give birth, contractions, uncontrollable mood swings that they are blamed for. For men it’s a given that we will lose our temper at times so MEH. Women are supposed to get flooded with hormones, bleed for 3-7 days, and act like it’s totally fine. I grew up with 3 older sisters and a mother. 4 women, 4 weeks in a month. Do the math. Taught me quite a bit about how no 2 women are alike though, and they DO NOT have any control over what their bodies do to them. I heard about everything their male (yes male) Gynos did and said after appointments too. Unbelievable and inexcusable.
    Instead of going on and on, cuz I could, as this is a very sore and important topic to me, let me say this. Thank you very much Dr Jen Gunter for what you do, what you say, and how you represent your profession. You are sorely needed and greatly appreciated.

    Posted by Ken Walter(KenGWalter1 on Twitter) | March 9, 2018, 1:53 am
  16. Undoubtedly there are many understandable, legitimate reasons why women now preponderate in OB/GYN. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily imply that they are better practitioners than men. And certainly there are lamentable tales of harassment and abuse in the field (including against men, as Dr. Gunter noted.) But to imply, as one commenter did, that losing all male OBs would be be no great problem is misguided at least, and borders on misandry. Take a deep breath, everyone. Eyes on the prize. There are much bigger fish to fry in the arena of female healthcare. Trump’s proposals, for example.

    Posted by David | March 9, 2018, 2:32 am
  17. A similar situation exists in veterinary medicine!

    Posted by M. Denise Corcoran, DVM | March 9, 2018, 3:19 am
  18. Regarding woman in residency.

    Your statement that no male resident was ever asked about their intention of procreation during residency. During my residency, a female co-resident was pregnant every year of residency. She had 4 children. As such, the other residents had to make up for her absence. According to her, she wasn’t allowed to do certain things, so of course the rest of the residents had to make up for this. As she was pregnant, she couldn’t take as many overnight calls, so of course the other residents had to cover her. She had to go to many physician (OB) appointments, so of course the other residents had to cover her. She never repaid those residents for taking over her case or staying longer in the hospital because she had an OB appointment. She never repaid them for taking her 24 hour calls. I’m all for procreation, but when it starts impacting the lives of the other residents, it’s simply unfair.

    Regarding pay for female physicians. Many of them work part time. They also want to take less call. They want to go home early to take care of their children or see their children’s plays and go to their games. It is not surprising that they get paid less. Do you think it is fair to pay them the same wages as someone who takes more 24 hour call. Stays longer at the hospital to do more cases. Doesn’t demand to have weekends off. If that is the case, I want to have her schedule with the male counterpart pay. You can’t have it both ways. It’s not reasonable or fair to expect to be paid the exact wages as males who work longer hours, take more call, work weekends, and basically work more than the female counterpart. If that’s the case, I want her schedule.

    Now I’m sure my comments are going to offend some of the readers. But really think about what you are asking male doctors. And if you are honestly willing to accept doing all the work, while someone else does less, and get paid the same, then either your that rare Good Samaritan or you are lying. Everyone’s time is valuable. Your priorities dictate how you want to spend that time. If your priorities are spending time with family and taking care of your children. That’s great. But don’t expect to be paid the same as someone who is actually working. Because then you are saying your time is more valuable and their time is less valuable.

    Just my thoughts.

    Posted by Joseph | March 9, 2018, 8:50 am
    • I assume if you broke your leg you would want other residents to cover for you or if your mother had an MI. As OB cares for women we need to be the leaders in fair maternity leave.

      The studies controlled for factors like work hours. I mentioned that. You can also read the links.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | March 9, 2018, 9:48 am
    • Joseph, I suggest you google “whataboutery”, a disorder to which you appear to have fallen victim, unwittingly or not.

      Posted by thisoldchick (Paula) | March 9, 2018, 2:29 pm
    • Dr. Gunter,

      Thank you so much for writing this. My dear friend (who is matching into OBGYN in a week!) from UCSD sent me the original LA times article (her caveat: “I’m hate reading this right now”), and my blood proceeded to boil and my head to explode for the next day. I was finally soothed by your words, because they perfectly express the rage my sleep-deprived and milk-addled brain is unable to articulate.

      I am a 30.5 year-old UCSF medical student. I took a year off after MS3 to have a baby, and will take another year off to try and have another baby even though I know the recommended inter-pregnancy interval is 18-24 months, because I have heard time and again that residency is a terrible time to have babies, that under no circumstances should I interview while pregnant, that maternity leave places an undue burden on co-residents, that I’ll be passed over for fellowship/job opportunities if I’m pregnant. I love my baby and my partner, but sometimes I wonder at how biological fact of reproduction dogs and drags at every step of my career while I see many male physicians (like the ones who are my course directors, Deans, chairs and vice chairs of departments) who have several offspring with no lasting damage to theirs. @Joseph, would you also want “her schedule” if your weekends, non-call days, and off days were filled with domestic chores and the lion’s share of child-rearing? Because a disproportionate amount of household duties e.g. cleaning, taking out trash, groceries, diaper changes, laundry, cooking, dishes, minor household repairs, etc ad nauseam, falls to women and mothers. We are not paid for these efforts. Some, like my husband, would argue that “nobody expects us to do these tasks.” But we do them nonetheless, because if not us, then who?

      Everyone’s time IS valuable. Yet society doesn’t seem to mind that, at least in your average heterosexual relationship, much of women’s valuable time is spent picking up socks to the direct personal and professional benefit of their male partners (why? why are there so many socks to be picked up???). It is also unfair that women at my husband’s workplace get 6 months of paid maternity leave whereas he received only 6 weeks. It’s astonishing and absolutely out of the ordinary that he received any paid paternity leave at all. Perhaps you and your co-residents would have suffered less were society more supportive of men taking a larger role in procreation.

      We are all victims of the patriarchy, Even you, Joseph. Even you.

      Posted by Jen Wang | March 9, 2018, 4:33 pm
    • That sounds like poor management on the program’s part. Certainly isn’t the way pregnancy is handled for our residents and fellows.

      Posted by Dee Martinez | March 10, 2018, 3:56 pm
  19. Thanks for writing this opinion piece. Medicine is still a male dominated field and women physicians have to keep pushing for change.
    To provide some perspective, I entered medical school 20 years before you did. I was fortunate because I enrolled at The Medical College of PA, which was known as Women’s Medical College until 1969 when the school was required to take men (Title IX). So 60% of my classmates were female and we had a number of women professors in the basic sciences and in the clinical specialties. We had a number of female Ob Gyns. Some of the male residents complained about “reverse discrimination.” So while I agree with you that women should not be discriminated against, it’s important to remember that we should be careful to avoid perpetrating the practice when we are in the majority.

    Posted by Paula Bononi | March 9, 2018, 10:27 am
  20. Fantastic summary of the state of our field and the women who power it despite ye of ongoing putdowns and disrespect. I am happy to report that we have had many patients refuse to be seen by a male medical student not bevause that is fair but to point out that the tide is turning in some places….but many inequities persist. we must resist!

    Posted by Lynne Conrad-Forrest | March 9, 2018, 6:48 pm
  21. As recently as 1989 IN CANADA is my only addition to note together. Sadly it would not have surprised to see that in the US in 89′, but a nonpregnancy provision in Canada?

    Posted by Daniel | March 10, 2018, 6:37 am
  22. My daughter only wanted a female physician examining her. Once she had her first thorough physical at age 13, she revealed to my long time family physician that her father had molested her. We need more female docs. (No he was never charged – an important but different topic)

    Posted by Simi | March 10, 2018, 7:49 am
  23. I have been very lucky to have had the same excellent, empathetic gynecologist for almost 40 years. And yes he’s a man. And I’m okay with that. The butcher who did my pelvic sling however, and told me after a year of pain that sometimes sex is painful as you get older, and I needed to accept it, should rot in hell. It was painful because he put it in the wrong place.

    Posted by Stefanie | March 11, 2018, 8:18 am
  24. Ironically, my family’s only male doctor is my ob, probably because I said I didn’t care when they asked if I preferred a male or a female doc when I first got pregnant. Dr. E.’s a dear but I totally understand why most women prefer women docs. It’s one of those fields where being a dramatic disparity makes sense. We’re still a long way from the few women who, like my aunt, prefer men to women ob/gyns would have a hard time finding them. (Auntie theorizes that because of her abusive mother, she’s leery of women with power over her.)

    Posted by Demodocus | March 12, 2018, 9:06 am
  25. Interesting article. In the other specialties that “discriminate” against women, is it really a gender bias or is there another root? OB/GYN is arguably just as demanding/challenging/heart breaking as other demanding specialties and women excel in it. No argument can be made that female physicians provide substandard care compared to men. I have a hard time believing the leaders within other demanding specialties actually believe that women could somehow perform less. I think the issue may be deeper than gender, I’m not sure what it is, but it really should be explored. It may just be mentoring and preconceived opinions from medical students on what is or is not possible. I think a good argument can be made that no field is in good standing where any sort of determination exists. You will lose talent if you discriminate. Despite the authors opinion, the systematic loss of large number of applicants will decrease talent available. Yes residency spots are filled, but would you rather have 100 or 200 applicants to choose from? From that group, maybe 1 will become a leader. The author believes this lost talent is not a problem because other female dominated specialties do not discuss it. I’m not sure that assumption is correct. I do believe if the pendulum swings too far and men believe they cannot go into OB/GYN, a potential leader could be lost, just as I would argue that the centuries that women have been systematically excluded from male dominated work as created a loss of knowledge/leadership that we will never be able to measure. Its hard to argue for things that were never realized, but perhaps advances would have happened much sooner had women been allowed to participate. The bottom line, I think we should avoid all discrimination, even if men “deserve it”, in the end it will probably hurt everyone.

    Posted by Kyle J Tobler | March 14, 2018, 7:23 am
  26. This surprises me: “My second thought is I have not read any think pieces on how the dearth of women in the areas of medicine that are still male dominated, such as neurosurgery, affects advances. No one there seems to worry that the lack of woman brain hampers much of anything.” A great deal is written about how a lack of diversity harms productivity in general. And, there are some good rebuttals against the insistence that we have a 50-50 distribution of genders in every profession (you and the Google-memo guy seem to share skepticism of that). So much is written generally about how a dearth of women in the professional ranks is bad for society, it’s hard to believe none of it applies to medical fields that are male-dominated.

    Posted by Ben Sharvy | March 17, 2018, 3:19 pm
  27. Wow. What a great place for man bashing. Pat yourselves on the back? So you’ve had a bad experience with a male doctor. So that means men are less sympathetic or women are better? I am a male OB/GYN and I take great care of my patients despite having a penis and testicles. So can you not treat diabetes if you don’t have it? Not treat cancer because you’ve never had it and don’t understand what it’s like or feels? Give me a break. I’ve never menstruated or been pregnant but I’m educated enough and listened intently to enough women that I can finish most of their lists of symptoms, diagnose them often just by their history. I listen. I learn. That’s what we all do. That’s what makes me a good OB/Gyn.

    Posted by Mark | March 17, 2018, 8:12 pm
  28. As always, you cut to the heart of the matter in a well-written and hard-hitting manner! Thank you for expressing what many of us female ObGyn’s have been feeling for years at the cry (whine) of males feeling excluded in our field.

    Posted by Alexa Kaskowitz | March 18, 2018, 4:33 pm
  29. Up until the 1970s the same arguments put forth by the author and many commentators were used to justify why males should dominate most professions. “Men trust other men in banking, business, real estate, medicine etc..”
    If you truly believe that diversity is a good thing you cannot pick and choose when this benefit applies. Personal biases and experiences do not counteract the benefits of diversity whether talking about gender, race, religion or age. In the year 2018, it is disappointing to hear so many comments against diversity.

    Posted by Paul | March 18, 2018, 5:33 pm
  30. During my reproductive years I had an Asian physician/male. He was pro choice, no religious affiliation, very secular, I loved him. When he died prematurely I looked for a female physician and there were none in my community. So as far as I am concerned they could all be female. Every book I ever read about women in science concluded that that area is a snake pit for women, therefore women should just take it over, she says wistfully

    Posted by mountain time | April 6, 2018, 2:11 pm
  31. I am in the minority here, but another aspect of a patriarchial system is that some female ob/gyns must “outmacha” their male colleagues to be taken seriously and literally compete. All of my ob/gyns except for one have been women, and several of them were unbelievably callous, rude, and uncaring. I had a terrible experience just last summer with someone who had no business practicing clinical medicine on any level. I attribute this to a years-long necessity for her to prove that she was Ms.Toughness and could be a bad*** bit**. That does not excuse her fundamental unsuitability for medicine and the obvious need for her to get out of clinical work and do something else with her training. It was a horrible experience, and I have a fairly serious and rare problem that needs extra diagnostic effort. I got none of that. I felt like a piece of meat that she wanted to hustle out of there as fast as possible.

    Posted by Sara | November 25, 2018, 10:05 pm
  32. So here’s the question nobody else has asked: which is better for women’s reproductive and sexual health? To insist on a female doctor who’s more likely to be alert and sensitive to a woman’s issues, or to accept a male doctor who may be insensitive, patronizing, and dismissive, but commit to speaking up each and every time it happens?

    As a menopausal woman, I’m finding that increasingly, male doctors dismiss all my health concerns as either hormonal or imaginary, whereas female doctors treat me like a human being. If there’s value in getting up the noses of insensitive male doctors, I’m entirely wiling to do it, but if it means I’ll just be written off as a difficult patient, I have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

    Posted by Meredith Tanner | December 6, 2018, 2:35 pm
    • Totally, totally agree. But you know what? The worst docs I’ve met have been WOMEN. I was just dismissed by a lazy, sadistic bitch (I have thirty years of experience in academic medicine and am a neuroscientist)–dumped by this lazy burnout bitch for being “difficult” for insisting that she use her brain and training to address my complex problem of decades of chronic and mysterious pain rather than default to “Let’s start removing organs and see what happens.” No, I am absolutely not doing that. Apply some intelligence to this problem before the lazy solution of just taking things out.

      I do not subscribe to the fiction that female physicians treat us better. That is bullshit. One of my grad students who’s now on her first postdoc is dealing with a terribly painful problem after the birth of her first child. She has been in really bad pain for two years. TWO YEARS. She does research at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, where I thought she would have gotten stellar care. But no. It took two flipping years for her to get help with this.

      Do not ever spit out the platitude to me that women doctors are more caring and empathetic blah blah. I’ve previously posted here my opinion about it. That has absolutely not been my experience. Quite the opposite. My student will also attest to this.

      Many young women I’ve known who have had huge problems will also attest to the indifference and sadism/cruelty of their OB/GYNs who are WOMEN. Don’t give me that crappola. I know better, and they know better..

      Posted by Sara | December 6, 2018, 3:40 pm

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