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Doctors who are mothers face increased workplace discrimination

Doctors working in the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of California generally enjoy a sizable income due to the nature of their profession. Even so, a survey published in a leading medical journal reveals that more than a third of MDs who are also mothers face discrimination in their workplaces. In an attempt to discover the reason for this trend, research authors dove deeper and looked at more than 900 comments from the nearly 6,000 physicians who responded to the anonymous survey.

Recurring issues included pregnancy discrimination in the form of lack of support while pregnant, lower salaries than colleagues performing similar work, gendered performance expectations and fewer opportunities for advancement. One woman reported routinely not being invited to outside work events where she could possibly make important connections as coworkers assumed she wouldn't be able to attend because of her children. Some of the doctors surveyed also reported increased stress from trying to find an appropriate work-home balance after becoming mothers.

An internal medicine study suggests that self-reported discrimination may impact patient care as well. One female doctor reported being ignored in a code situation. Others reported instances of resigning due to significant burnout and concerns about compromised patient care. The study's co-author stresses the need for initiatives to promote gender equality while also supporting women and parents in the medical profession. Longer paid maternity leave and access to additional childcare options are among the changes respondents who faced discrimination said they wanted to see.

Workplace discrimination can include what's been described here or instances of sexual harassment from peers or individuals with hiring or firing authority. To prove employment discrimination, an attorney may interview potential witnesses or look for patterns of similar behavior with other employees. Violations of employment discrimination laws that might require assistance from a lawyer might also include subtle forms for discrimination such as being selective with who's offered promotions or showing preferential treatment for certain employees.

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