Female doctors do more housekeeping and parenting than male doctors

Researchers who studied a group of motivated physician-academics have uncovered gender differences in the amount of time spent on parenting and household tasks, suggesting a reason for why female academic physicians overall do not have the same career success as their male counterparts.

The researchers, led by Dr. Reshma Jagsi of the University of Michigan Health System, have published their results in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

They surveyed over 1,000 motivated people with a medical degree who had received career development awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The physicians were asked questions that determined how they divided their time and what their family responsibilities entailed.

Results show that, of physicians who were married, men were four times more likely to have a spouse who was either not employed or who only worked part-time.

Additionally, of physicians who were married with children, men worked 7 hours longer and spent 12 fewer hours on household tasks and parenting every week, compared with the women.

Commenting on the findings, Dr. Jagsi, who is also associate professor of radiation oncology at the university, says:

“One might expect that within a highly educated Generation X population there would be a relatively even distribution of domestic labor. But what we found was that there still seems to be a difference in the expectations at home for men and women, even for those with very busy jobs, even today.”

She adds that some of these differences could be explained by “the ability of male physicians to still support the traditional breadwinner model of a family.”

She cites their finding that most of the female participants were married to spouses who worked full-time, while most of the male participants had spouses who worked part-time or not at all.

‘Interventions needed to create time for both family and career’

After the researchers accounted for spouse employment and other factors, they found that married women with children still spent 8.5 more hours on parenting and housework than the males did.

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