- Another, much larger problem with the aim of trying to feminise male-dominated professions is the likelihood that as soon as the gender balance has shifted, the given profession will get devalued. That is exactly what has happened in medicine, according to Dr Carol Black - only the second woman in 500 years to serve as president of the Royal College of Physicians.
Over the past 20 years, women have become well represented among the higher ranks of medicine, as consultants, hospital managers and in the analytical field of medical education. And at university level, female medical students now outnumber males by 61% to 39%. Black, one would have presumed, would be cheering.
But last August she went public with a controversial plea for more men to enter medicine in order to reverse its decline in status. What she didn t say - but what was clearly implied - was that if her plea was heeded, in the future there would be less room in medicine for women.
- What all this has to do with pay is illuminating. In the same years that have seen women enter medicine in large numbers, doctors salaries have, in real terms, plummeted in comparison with private-sector pay in other professions.
Female doctors, in other words, may have closed the gender gap, but only by bringing male salaries down to match their own in a profession newly perceived as feminised .
This is interesting on a number of fronts--and I like that educators are considered among the higher wrungs of medical professions, at least in Scotland! Now that half of those entering med school in the U.S. are female, I can't help but wonder if we in the U.S. will (or already are) experiencing a similar devaluation in physician salaries.
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