Within most industries in the United States, women hold just 25% of senior leadership positions. In the healthcare industry, the ratio is more proportionate with women holding 49% of top tier positions however, increasing numbers of female graduating medical students may lead to a change. There is a growing trend of increased female healthcare practitioners and a rising number of women in the field of aesthetic medicine. Today, women constitute more than one-third of practicing physicians and half of physicians in training, resulting in the rise of female dermatologists and aesthetic doctors.
To recognize this demographic shift, pharmaceutical company Galderma recently announced a new multi-disciplinary group of advisory members – The Women in Aesthetics Leadership Council. Comprised of distinguished female leaders in aesthetic medicine, the council includes clinicians, clinical trial investigators, CEOs, business owners, and practice managers. Working to empower women nationwide, their goal is to accelerate the growing trend of women in leadership roles and clinical research, and foster support for female aesthetic business ownership.
The Issues Female Physicians Face
Although the number of female physicians is rising specialty-wide, women face additional mental health, scheduling, and employment equality burdens compared to their male counterparts. According to athenaInsights, a 2017 survey of over 1,000 physicians found 54% of women under the age of 45 reported symptoms of burnout versus 31% of males. Female physicians under the age of 35 had the highest rates of burnout, which is characterized by emotional exhaustion and depersonalization.
New research also indicates an increased risk of depression in female physicians. A team of researchers led by Dr. Constance Guille analyzed the mental health of over 3,000 new doctors who had similar levels of depressive symptoms at the start of residency. After six months, both genders showed a spike in depression scores however, women had much more pronounced increases related to work-family conflicts. Female physicians continue to shoulder the bulk of household duties, as is the case for most other professions, however, the unequal distribution in domestic labor is particularly felt in this physically and emotionally grueling industry.
Not only do women face increased risks of depression, but they are also twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population, according to a 2018systematicreview< >. Meanwhile, female physicians are less likely to advance and earn significantly less than their male colleagues despite equivalent productivity levels. Additionally, women and minorities are more likely to suffer abusive treatment and mistrust from their patients and less likely to be recognized for the same accomplishments.
The Changing Face of Medicine
Statistics reveal that women now constitute the majority of younger doctors, which may put pressure on healthcare institutions to change their practices in order to support and promote female physicians. As women become increasingly prevalent within the medical community, healthcare executives – who are predominantly men – will be tasked with creating a more conducive environment for female doctors.
Scheduling is one area of concern. Flexibility in scheduling could alleviate work-family conflicts if healthcare professionals are not forced to choose between clinical care and their families. Minimizing the burnout and bias female physicians face is also necessary for creating a supportive work environment. This will hopefully be achieved when more women are placed in executive roles and as the shift in medical personnel demographics progresses in the future.
As these reports reveal, the number of female practicing physicians continues to rise specialty-wide, including medicinal aesthetics. Leadership opportunities such as The Women in Aesthetic Leadership Council are important milestones marking this shift. Recognition and awareness of the additional burdens women face is necessary to the creation of a more productive supportive work environment, which will ultimately lead to the improved mental health of many female doctors.