chapter  9
12 Pages


For many observers of women’s position in the labor market, the careers of women in the traditional professions—medicine, law, and the clergy— have become tests of gender equality and opportunities available for a new generation of women. Women’s growing proportion among practicing physicians and among the new entrants to medical school has been viewed as a sign of such equality. Some skeptics point to the skewed career profile of women: women are highly represented at the bottom of the hierarchy of medicine but still sparsely distributed in the higher ranks of academic and administrative medicine. The skeptics see such a distribution as an indication that the initially envisioned genuine integration of women into medicine has not come to pass. The optimists try, however, to console the skeptics with current statistics: women constitute almost or already a majority of the medical school students in most Western countries today. From these statistics, the optimists draw the conclusion that women will in the near future head most of the organizations and hold most of the top positions in the profession. This view is based on a notion that there is a lag in the representation of women at medicine’s higher levels. The assumption is that as the new and large cohort of women advances in its career, it will be evenly distributed and soon even outnumber men in most areas and ranks of medicine.