The rise of feminine power has tapped into a resource that had been underutilized.
Women now make up a large proportion of accountants, lawyers and doctors. It would seem that is this the fulfillment of the wishes of the early feminist movement, but it has come at some cost.
The brightest women college students used to go into education. As the brightest now seek more lucrative career options this has reduced the quality of the teacher gene pool. To some extent the use of incredible information technology can fill the gap but it takes even brighter teachers to really understand how to use it wisely.
As more women go into medicine and younger women seek to have it all, lucrative career and quality family time, women doctors work less and see fewer patients and many of them move to working part time. Given the cost of training doctors and the critical need for more doctors this is causing a doctor shortage just as medical reforms are creating more patients in need of a doctor. This problem is aggravated by regulations that reduce the income of doctors while increasing their costs.
Karen Sibert writes about this issue in Don’t Quit this Day Job in the 6/11/11 New York Times.
But the productivity of the doctors currently practicing is also an important factor. About 30 percent of doctors in the United States are female, and women received 48 percent of the medical degrees awarded in 2010. But their productivity doesn’t match that of men. In a 2006 survey by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges, even full-time female doctors reported working on average 4.5 fewer hours each week and seeing fewer patients than their male colleagues. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that 71 percent of female pediatricians take extended leave at some point — five times higher than the percentage for male pediatricians.
This gap is especially problematic because women are more likely to go into primary care fields — where the doctor shortage is most pronounced — than men are. Today 53 percent of family practice residents, 63 percent of pediatric residents and nearly 80 percent of obstetrics and gynecology residents are female. In the low-income areas that lack primary and prenatal care, there are more emergency room visits, more preventable hospitalizations and more patients who die of treatable conditions. Foreign doctors emigrate to the United States to help fill these positions, but this drains their native countries of desperately needed medical care.
Older feminists fought for choice and change, but younger women may be having trouble making that choice. There is no going back to the days of Ozzy and Harriette (if you don’t know who they are then you are a young reader). In medicine this decision is being facilitated as more doctors seek salaried medical positions rather than private practice. The best we can hope for is to recognize the impact and costs of the progress of women and not enact policies, especially in medicine that makes the problem worse.