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Women doctors in South Africa. A survey of their experience and opinions

Brink A.J. ; Bradshaw D. ; Benade M.M.M. ; Heath S. (1991)


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The proportion of women entering medical school has increased at some faculties but remains at around 20% at others. A postal survey of 2626 women on the Medical Register of the South African Medical and Dental Council was conducted to investigate aspects related to their work. Fifty-five per cent responded, with a possible bias towards older doctors and graduates from Afrikaans-language faculties. Although a significant majority (86,5%) are in practice, about one-third (33,4%) are employed part-time and nearly one-third (29,4%) reported that they had experienced an interruption of their careers for periods of more than 5 years. Major factors relating to this wastage of medical resources identified by this study were the women's dual responsibility at home and at work, the one-time joint taxation system and discrimination in the workplace, in particular with regard to housing loans. Few women find their way into specialist practice (18,5%), teaching or research, although 68,2% indicated that they would have liked to specialise. Home responsibilities (48,2%) and the structure of the curriculum (31,5%) were the commonly reported difficulties experienced with further study. In addition, the lack of part-time training and the geographical location of such facilities also played a role.

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