Doctors of BC has created a policy statement to help better understand gender inequity in medicine, and to build on individual and collective physician action to address this significant challenge.
Research shows that gender inequity in medicine is a societal issue that is the result of both systemic and individual level bias. In the medical profession, gender inequity negatively affects female physicians in areas such as income, career advancement, mental health, and job satisfaction. Gender bias can also discourage female physicians from pursuing specific specialties or being equally represented in leadership roles. And while research on the experiences of gender diverse physicians is scarce, it too suggests they likely face challenges of inequity and discrimination in the workplace.
Gender inequity in medicine cannot be solved only through changes in the health care system, but actions specific to the medical profession can be taken to make it more gender equitable for women and gender diverse physicians. In the policy statement, Doctors of BC makes a number of recommendations and commitments to action:
- The BC Ministry of Health, health authorities, and other physician employers expand their efforts to identify, resolve, and prevent gender inequity by collaborating with physicians to:
- Remove and/or prevent gender pay gaps in fee codes and alternative payment plans.
- Better accommodate doctors with children or other care-taking responsibilities so that they can participate in leadership, attend training, and avoid loss of income or negative impacts on career advancement.
- Apply a Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+) or other equity lens when developing policy or making decisions that affect physicians.
- Review hiring and promotion practices to identify and address potential gender bias and track gender representation in leadership and other positions over time.
- Evaluate equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) policies and processes, as well as workplace benefit plans, to determine if they are adequately supporting gender equity for physicians, particularly women and gender diverse physicians.
- Medical schools and residency programs build on existing EDI work by collaborating with medical students and physicians to identify and address the impact that gender bias, discrimination, and harassment can have during medical training.
Doctors of BC commitments include:
- Using fee data to assist Sections and Societies in measuring the gender pay gap in and between specialties and identifying potential solutions to prevent and/or resolve it (as stated in the Physician Master Agreement ratified late 2022).
- Reviewing physician parental leave benefits administered through Doctors of BC to ensure they are meeting doctors’ needs and encouraging people of all genders to use them;
- Helping members advocate at the individual level for fair pay by creating resources to help physicians understand contracts, maximize billing, and negotiate pay, and by directing them to professional contract/legal support services when needed.
- Raising awareness among physicians and in the health care system of gender diversity and gender inequity in medicine and providing ideas for individual and collective action to support positive change, among others.
While strides have been made in gender equality in medicine over the years, there is still much work to be done. Opportunities exist for male physicians to support their female and gender diverse colleagues, and many steps can be taken by health care organizations to ensure women and gender diverse physicians are treated equally. Doctors of BC supports all our members in this work, and we will continue to work collaboratively with our health system partners to create positive change.