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[Special] Female doctors suffer discrimination from moment of selecting medical residentsJoint series by Korea Biomedical Review & Korea Medical Women’s Association
① Forty percent of doctors point to “sexual discrimination in selecting medical residents
  • By Song Soo-youn
  • Published 2019.03.15 10:24
  • Updated 2019.03.15 10:24
  • comments 1

One of the male-dominated professions in Korea is medicine. However, the share of females increased from 17.6 percent in 2000 to 25.4 percent in 2017 (“Women’s life seen by 2018 statistics,” Statistics Korea). As women increase, calls for gender equality are also growing. The medical community has been free from the criticism for failing to keep pace with the social change. Against this backdrop, Korea Biomedical Review, jointly with Korea Medical Women’s Association (KMWA), surveyed doctors to understand gender equality in the medical community. This paper looked into what discriminations female doctors feel through a three-part series. – Ed.

The medical community was not an exception to sexual discrimination. Four out of 10 doctors experienced discrimination from the moment of selecting majors.

According to a survey conducted by Korea Biomedical Review and Korea Medical Women’s Association, 39.7 percent, or 466 respondents, answered they experienced sexual discrimination in selecting medical residents. A total of 1,174 doctors took part in the opinion poll conducted from Nov. 14 to Dec. 31 last year.

Although slightly more respondents -- 41.1 percent (438 respondents) -- replied they did not experience sexual discrimination, the rates sharply differed by sex (16.0 percent said they were not sure, and 3.2 percent said not applicable).

Up to 52.6 percent (394) of women said they underwent discrimination, but only 16.9 percent of men (72) said so. Also, 59.1 percent of men said they did not experience sexual discrimination in selecting medical residents, but 31.0 percent of women made the same answer.

The ratio of women who experienced discrimination in selecting medical residents fell from eight years ago. According to an opinion poll KMWA conducted on female medical residents in 2010, 91.9 percent of respondents said sex exerted influence on the selection of medical residents.

Women feel sexual discrimination than men in hiring fellows, professors

After completing medical residency and becoming specialists, the ratio of the respondents experiencing sexual discrimination dropped. However, women feel discrimination more than men in hiring fellows or professors.

Out of 566 doctors who applied for a fellowship, only 8.5 percent, or 48 respondents, had experienced sexual discrimination. Among the rest, 70.3 percent, or 398, said they did not suffer discrimination (21.2 percent said they didn’t know).

While 11.5 percent (35) of women experienced sexual discrimination in applying for a fellowship, only 5.0 percent (13) of men said so.

A slightly higher ratio of doctors experienced sexual discrimination in being hired as professors than when applying for a fellowship. Sixty-seven respondents, or 13.7 percent, said there was sexual discrimination in becoming professors while 257, or 52.6 percent, said they did not experience discriminations (33.7 percent said, “don’t know).

In the case of women, however, 23.5 percent (59) replied they experienced sexual discrimination when they were hired as professors, more than seven times higher than men’s 3.3 percent (eight). Among those who answered they suffered sexual discrimination in becoming professors, 88.1 percent, or 67, were women.

There were sexual discriminations, too, when they got jobs at medical institutions after becoming doctors. Out of a total of 859 respondents, 16.8 percent, or 144 doctors, said they experienced sexual discrimination when getting a job at hospitals while 56.3 percent (484) said they did not. The other 26.9 percent said they did not know (315 were excluded as they did not attempt to get jobs).

Most of the doctors who experienced discrimination while working at medical institutions were women. Out of 144 who suffered discrimination, 86.8 percent, or 125, were women.

Out of female 507 female respondents, 24.7 percent experienced sexual discrimination while only 5.4 percent of men, or 19, said they had similar experiences.

More than one-fourth of respondents (27.5 percent, 323 respondents) said they suffered sexual violence, including harassment, in medical institutions.

Women far outnumbered men as victims of sexual violence, too. Among female respondents, 39.1 percent (293) replied they experienced sexual abuse while 7.1 percent (30) of men said so.

Those with no experiences of sexual violence accounted for 43.4 percent of women and 80.5 percent of men.


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