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Gender differences continue to exist between heart doctors

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Although cardiologists are generally satisfied with their career, the differences between men and women point to ongoing concerns about family and family life, equal pay and remove barriers to success, according to a new survey.

For example, female heart doctors are less likely to report career progression and more likely to report discrimination in the workplace.

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Women represent only about 13 percent of the cardiologists, compared to 18 percent of the surgeons, 30 percent of the oncologists and hematologists, 35 percent of internists and 50 percent of the obstetricians and gynecologists.

“We already know that cardiology is a field that not enough women,” said senior study author Claire Duvernoy of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor. Duvernoy president of the American College of Cardiology Women in Cardiology Council, which conducted the survey every 10 years since 1996.

“We find that there are many differences between men and women, and have not really gone to a considerable degree,” she told Reuters Health. “If there is still a perception that having both a career in the field of cardiology and a family is difficult for women, we need to find ways to change that.”

The cardiologists who completed the survey – 964 women and 1,349 men – answered questions about demographics, career choice, career satisfaction, and professional and personal obstacles to success.

Overall, 88 percent of women and 90 percent of the men reported moderate to high satisfaction. Similarly, approximately 60 percent of both the men and the women were satisfied with their financial compensation.

In the past 20 years, the researchers note that the percentage of women reporting discrimination has decreased from 71 percent to 65 percent.

Still, however, women were less likely to report progress in comparison with their peers. Almost two-thirds of the women reported discrimination in the workplace, that’s three times more than men, and more likely due to gender and parenthood. Men were more likely to report racial and religious discrimination.

Women are still less likely to marry and to have children than men, and more likely to require childcare help, and to interrupt their medical training, typically for the delivery, the survey shows.

“The (American College of Cardiology) as a whole is having a conversation now about ways to make this career more attractive,” Duvernoy said. “The conversation should be done about the level of the playing field.”

Although women are still more likely to say family duties hinder their professional activities, the survey shows a significant shift in the way men experience the family. Compared to 20 years ago, they are more likely to say now that the family has a negative impact on their career, which could mean that they are on the more homely duties, the authors of the study wrote in the Journal of the Amerian College of Cardiology.

“Our workforce is older, and if we don’t increase the width of our pool, we are not going to fill that demand,” Duvernoy said. “We need more women and minorities are under-represented to take care of the growing number of patients with heart disease in the next 10-20 years.”

Why non-doctors should care about these issues, “Personal life spill over into the nature of the care provided,” said Anupam Jena, a cardiologist at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in this research. In a study conducted In mid-December, Jena and colleagues found that patients who are treated by female doctors have better health than male doctors.

“If women have a better outcome for the patient, but be paid less and discriminated against more, what does that say about the efficiency of our physician workforce?” he told Reuters Health. “We need to give incentives to encourage women in the field of cardiology, and we do not do so.”

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