A Gender Divide Is Increasing in the Professions

By Dejevsky, Mary | The Independent (London, England), April 8, 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

A Gender Divide Is Increasing in the Professions

Dejevsky, Mary, The Independent (London, England)

Dr Brian McKinstry of Edinburgh University is a brave man. Writing in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, he described the increasing number of women doctors as "bad for medicine" and forecast a staffing crisis down the line.

He was not allowed to get away with it, of course. His arguments were met with a chorus of female objection, led by Prof Jane Dacre of University College, London. She argued in the same issue of the BMJ that, if more women than men were qualifying as doctors, it was because they were outperforming men. She also pointed out that women were under-represented in certain specialities and at senior levels of the profession. Thus, it was to be inferred, women were still very far from attaining anything like equality.

Now I accept all Prof Dacre's arguments. It is right that girls' superior grades at school are reflected in the greater number admitted to study medicine. And it is bad that women are still so poorly represented at the top of the profession. Having said that, though, I have more than a sneaking sympathy for Dr McKinstry when he argues that the growing gender imbalance in medicine may have a malign effect in the longer term.

Indeed, I would venture to go rather further than he has. It is not only medicine that is being altered by the growing number of female entrants, but other professions, too. And while many of the changes may be positive, in terms of the superior jobs now open to women, the way that it is happening is producing a level of professional segregation that could threaten the very equality of pay, status and prospects that the feminist pioneers hoped to achieve.

It is beyond dispute that professional segregation is increasing. In teaching, the gender imbalance is more and more marked, not just in primary schools, but state secondaries as well. This has to do not only with all the checks now made on those who want to work with children, but with the subject and career choices that young men and women make.

In higher education, whole departments now tend to be almost all male or almost all female - among teaching staff and students alike. The dearth of female scientists is now as acute as it was even when far fewer women went to university. Arts and social studies are feminised.

In the law, where - as in medicine - more women than men are now qualifying as solicitors and, as of last year, as barristers, women opt disproportionately for family and legal-aid work, and are strikingly absent from the partnerships and committees that constitute the profession's higher reaches.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

A Gender Divide Is Increasing in the Professions


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?