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[Special]Environment against childbirth, rearing causes sexual discriminationJoint series by Korea Biomedical Review & Korea Medical Women’s Association
③ ‘Korea should improve childbirth, rearing environment, distorted sexual culture
  • By Song Soo-youn
  • Published 2019.03.20 09:43
  • Updated 2019.03.20 09:43
  • comments 0

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.

Doctors cited two reasons sexual discrimination do not disappear – childbirth and rearing problems and the culture in which men’s vested rights passed from generation to generation.

To resolve sexual discrimination, they stressed the need to improve the child-bearing and rearing environment and distorted sexual culture, including sexual harassment.

According to the results of a survey conducted jointly by Korea Biomedical Review and Korea Medical Women’s Association (KMWA), respondents cited childbirth, childcare and housework problems most as the reason for sexual discrimination within the medical community. Assuming that an item with closer to 5 points has higher relevance to sexual discrimination, respondents gave an average of 3.88 points to childbirth, childcare and household chore problems.

The opinion poll was conducted from Nov. 14 and Dec. 31 last year, and 1,174 physicians took part in it. Out of the total, 425 were men, and the other 749 were women.

The respondents cited the “practice of handing over men’s vested interests” as second most to childbirth, childcare and housework problems. Respondents gave the item 3.34 points on average.

For women, the lack of opportunities and mentors also exerted influence on sexual discrimination. Respondents gave the average of 3.19 points to this item.

Respondents also thought the lack of personal connection (2.89 points), including school ties, has relations to sexual discrimination.

There were differences between men and women in citing items that have high relevance to sexual discrimination. While men thought individual problems have much influence on sexual discrimination, women believed it results from male-

Both men and women cited childbirth, childcare and housework as having highest relevance to sexual discrimination (3.42 points from men, 4.15 points from women), they differed in citing the second and third reasons for sexual discrimination.

Male respondents cited women’s lack of leadership (2.48 points), dislike of competition and low success-oriented tendency (2.47 points) as reasons with high relevance to sexual discrimination.

However, female respondents pointed to the practice of men’s vested interests passing down from generation to generation (3.91 points) and lack of opportunities and mentors (3.79 points) as having high relevance to sexual discrimination.

Both men, women stress need to ‘improve childbirth, caring environment’

The surveyed shared the view that it is necessary to create an environment for compatibility between childbirth and rearing and work.

Respondents gave the highest mark of 4.36 points to childbirth and rearing problem as the item that requires improvement for resolving sexual discrimination. Coming next was improving distorted sexual culture, including sexual harassment (4.03 points), rectifying male-oriented culture (3.92 points) and expanding women’s participation in decision-making positions (3.77 points).

There were differences, too, in the order of items that need improvement to solve sexual discrimination.

Both men and women pointed to improving childbirth and rearing environment (3.96 points from men, 4.58 points from women), and bettering distorted sexual culture (3.33 points from men, 4.43 points from women).

However, male respondents cited performance management (3.07 points) as next, and women pointed to improving male-centered society (4.42 points).

“They think as if maternity leave were giving a benefit, and causing damages to coworkers,” a physician said.

“When female doctors experience difficulties producing results because of childbirth and childcare problems, the society tends to think it as ‘women’s problem,’ attacks it as a weakness and cries women down, instead of co-ruminating on it and getting considerate,” another doctor said. “And it often criticizes women for lacking in professionalism.”

A third doctor also said, “In the space exclusive for doctors, such as the night-duty room or laboratory, there are no toilets for women, and the exclusive space for nurses has no rest-room for men.”

There were also criticisms that women tend to avoid difficult work.

“In assigning tasks or night duty, hospitals tend to consider women, but those affected are inclined to take it for granted, which is not reasonable,” a doctor said. Another said, “I hope women will not think it discrimination after failing to do some work because it was difficult.”


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