Re-calibrating medical sex

by | Dec 22, 2015 | Australia, health, occupation

Thirty years ago TVs were filled with MacGyver, dancefloors swayed to Cindy Lauper, the US threw its weight all over Latin America, and 8 out of 9 visits to Australian Doctors were seen by guys.

Australians made 68.1 million visits to General Practitioners in 1984-85, and 60.6 million of those services were provided by male doctors[1].

Since then the GP sexual landscape has been changing at a steady pace.

University data show increasing number of women graduating, doing so in larger number than men since about 1987[2], and these graduates have had a visible impact on the professional make-up.

Whilst we haven’t scaled the heights of Cindy nor MacGyver, and the US is still largely using its army to secure market-share around the globe, our medical gender balance has drastically improved.

By 2013-14 women provided 33% of all GP services. That’s triple the 11% provided in 1984-85.

Like many other professions, women work part-time at higher rates than men. Women GP work the equivalent of half a full-time role on average, while male doctors work two-thirds of a full-time role. This means that even though only 33% of GP services are provided by women, they make up 43% of all working GPs. This is almost double the 22 % they made up in 1984-85.

Count of GPs by Sex

This means that of the 15,742 more GPs Australia has now in comparison to the mid-80s, 10,228 of them (or 65%) are women!

Unfortunately the Health Department figures are not provided by gender and age. However, based on the rapid change in gender balance, the increasing rates of female graduates, and the growing number of doctors nearing retirement age, I suspect the overall balance will continue to calibrate in the coming decade.

Is this enough? Hells no. But it might provide more role-models, and perhaps even help the gender pay-gap which has stubbornly continued despite improvements across various socio-economic areas.