Among Cardiologists, Women Cite Discrimination

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008; 12:00 AM

TUESDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The number of female cardiologists in the United States doubled in the last decade, but under-representation of women in the profession and discrimination continue to be problems, according to a survey of 1,110 cardiologists.

Even though the number of women and men graduating from medical school is about the same, women account for fewer than 20 percent of all cardiologists. Two-thirds of women continue to report discrimination, mostly attributed to the competing demands of their profession and parenting/family responsibilities.

The survey found that women are less likely to pursue a career in interventional radiology, in part because of concerns about radiation exposure and pregnancy risks. Female cardiologists are also more likely to have interruptions in their training or practice and much less likely to be married or have children than their male colleagues.

The findings were published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

"Women in cardiology continue to face the same institutional and personal roadblocks as those in other areas of medicine and science," Dr. Athena Poppas, associate professor of medicine at Brown University Medical School, said in an American College of Cardiology news release. "Women don't choose to specialize as much as their male counterparts for a variety of reasons, including the intensity and length of training -- at least six years for cardiology -- during peak childbearing years."

"One-third of Americans will have cardiovascular disease, so we must attract the best and the brightest -- and that includes women -- to keep up with the demand and provide the highest level of patient care and research to help advance the field," said Poppas, who chairs the American College of Cardiology's Women in Cardiology Council, which commissioned the survey. "We need to find ways to reduce discrimination, establish greater flexibility in work hours and expand opportunities for mentorship to better meet the needs of women and men as they plan their careers in cardiology."

"The perception is that cardiology is more demanding and the hours less easy to control than other areas of medicine," Poppas said. "Cardiology involves life-threatening emergencies, so you're not always sure you'll be home for dinner or make it to the school play. But it's incredibly rewarding, and it shows. Cardiologists of both genders love what they do, and nine out of 10 say they are moderately to highly satisfied."

More information

The American College of Cardiology has more about cardiologists.

SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, news release, Dec. 15, 2008



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