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Key trend - Proportion of licensed women doctors has risen

The proportion of licensed women doctors has risen further in the past year, especially in general practice and obstetrics and gynaecology where women were already well-represented.

In areas like surgery, emergency medicine and anaesthesia there has been very little or no change.


Key statistics

  • In comparison to Equality Lens I (2016) the gap between men and women doctors has narrowed from 53% male:47% female to 52% male:48% female.
  • Across all nations there are more women GPs than men – the proportion of women GPs has increased again, from 52% women:48% men in Equality Lens I, to 55% women: 45% men in Equality Lens II.
  • Scotland has the highest proportion of women GPs at 59%, while England has 55%, Wales has 52% and Northern Ireland has 51%.
  • The BMA's cohort study shows women junior doctors are more likely to shift out of hospital-based specialties and acute medicine into general practice. Reasons for this include wanting to take career breaks, work more regular hours, less out-of-hours and more flexibly,g and Equality Lens I also highlights the increasing numbers of women entering salaried GP roles for similar reasons.
  • There is a greater representation of women in SAS (staff and associate specialist) grades than among consultants. Scotland has the highest proportion of women in SAS grades. 63% of SAS doctors in Scotland are women, compared to 51% in England, 50% in Wales and 55% in Northern Ireland. 
  • Across the UK 64% of consultants are men. The representation of men ranges from 61% to 64% across the nations. There has been very little change over the past five years in the gender make-up of the consultant workforce. There are various explanations for women's lower representation in consultant posts. The barriers women consultants describe include a gendered culture in medicine and if they work less than full time "a sense that they were undertaking a full-time workload in part-time hours".
  • The specialities in which the proportion of women has increased the most in the past year are broadly the ones in which women are already better represented. In Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women now occupy 53% of the specialty group, while within Public Health and Paediatrics women represent an increasing majority – the proportion of women in Paediatrics has steadily increased since 2013. In some specialties, the rates of change have stagnated. In Surgery, there has been very little change in the proportions since 2012 (a 3-percentage point increase). In Emergency Medicine and Anaesthetics and Intensive Care, there have been no changes in the proportions since 2016.

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