Gender Equity Task Force
|Mission & Position||Goals & Objectives||News||Webinar||Get Involved||Resources|
Workforce planning is critical to health care reform. With women physicians making up 50% of the graduating medical school classes, women are the fastest growing demographic in the physician workforce today. In 2011, Dr. Roberta Gebhard founded the Gender Equity Task Force amongst fellow members of the American Medical Women's Association. She recruited her colleague and friend Dr. Linda Brodsky to co-chair the committee with her. During 2010, the Gender Equity Task force wrote its mission statement and position paper, in addition to, compiling a list of all women physician organizations, and their contacts, in which women physicians have chosen to organize. Together they created a webinar entitled Achieving Gender Equity for Women Physicians for AMWA's networking alliance. Following the webinar, the gender equity task force was asked to comment as an authority on gender discrepancies in medicine, specifically with relation to pay discrepancies between male and female physicians upon entry into the physician workforce.
At AMWA's 2011 Annual Meeting, the gender equity task force presented their goals for 2012 to AMWA's networking alliance and formulated new goals for their 2012 agenda. For the upcoming year, the gender equity task force aims to unify all the women in medicine into a workforce study group using the existing structures that bring women physicians together in organized medicine and to create a longitudinal, relational data base that will serve as a data set that is systemic and helps us to not only answer specific questions, but also to direct us to ask the right questions, not yet addressed by current research. Additionally, the gender equity task force aims to improve AMWA's advocacy efforts by addressing gender inequity and workforce planning as a health care reform issue. With the predicted physician shortages, our ability to fully understand and to optimally harness the work habits of women physicians are critical to the future of medical care in the US.
Finally, the gender equity task force aims to contribute to the medical literature on topics relating to the impact of gender discrimination on the woman physician, the importance of appropriate gender specific linguistics, and the health of women physicians during pregnancy.
Creating the Foundation for Study of Women Physicians in the 21st Century
Principle Investigator: Linda Brodsky, MD, Co-Chair, American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), Gender Equity Task Force (GETF)
Co-Investigator: Roberta Gebhard, DO, Co-Chair, AMWA GETF
Consultant: Jean Moore, BSN, MSN, Director, SUNY Albany School of Public Health, Center for Health Workforce Studies
Women are the fastest growing demographic in the physician workforce today. Research has shown that their acceptance and, by extension, full use of their talents, are sub-optimal in order to meet not only their own professional goals but also the healthcare needs of society. Physician shortages are predicted, and, unfortunately the onus is already being placed on the heads of women who may have different work styles and schedules. Thus our abilities to fully understand and to optimally harness the work habits of women physicians are critical to the future of medical care in the US.
To date, studies about women in medicine are limited in their abilities to extract specific data from this heterogeneous group of physicians. Reliance on small cohorts to make generalizations has continued stereotypes and produced conflicting results, depending on the group studied. Much of the information is inadequate to identify and address the needs of women physicians and thereby advance their progress in the medical profession.
Purpose of the Study:
The purpose of this study is to create structures and build tools in preparation for a larger, multi-year grant (e.g. NIH or NSF) to establish a longitudinal data base capable of tracking women physicians experiences and behaviors. The over-riding goals are to understand this demographic in order to inform policies and to optimize the healthcare workforce for the future.
Specific goals of this grant are:
- To unify all the women in medicine into a workforce study group using the existing structures that bring women physicians together in organized medicine.
- To create a longitudinal, relational data base that will serve as a data set that is systematic and helps us to not only answer specific questions, but also to direct us to ask the right questions, not yet addressed by current research.
Significance of the Work
Workforce planning is critical to healthcare reform. Many observations assumptions and are made about women physicians in a body of literature that is just emerging. These studies are all limited because of the inability to gain broad-based, in-depth information across the full spectrum of women’s experiences in medicine. Women physicians are a heterogeneous group of professionals. No single medical organization can represent all women. Accurate, full bodied information is essential to understanding the work habits, experiences and needs of women physicians. Without such information, perpetuation of stereotypes and misinformation about the behavior of any one woman or even the group as a whole persists and has a negative effect on the profession and the patients it serves.
Organization of women physicians into a collaborative will result in stronger, more meaningful participation in healthcare delivery. Medical societies and educational institutions continue to be dominated by male physicians, even in specialties where women are the majority, e.g. pediatrics, psychiatry. Thus, the questions posed, based on gendered structures and definitions of productivity, are likely limiting our understanding of the potential of this workforce.