May 15

Physician Moms More Likely to Face Discrimination at Work

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A new survey released by the University of California San Francisco finds that physician moms often face discrimination in the workplace. The UCSF report, which reached nearly 6,000 working physician mothers, found that a staggering 4 out of 5 respondents reported facing some kind of discrimination, most of it based on their status as mothers.

Perceived discriminatory actions included disrespect, reduced pay, being overlooked for promotion, or being held to higher performance standards. Each of these acts has the potential to encourage workers facing unfairness based on their sex to fight for a more equitable workplace. There are many hardships associated with working in a position in which one does not feel valued. Physician moms tend to have several caregiving responsibilities outside of the workplace. In addition to treating their patients, they may also care for children at home, sick relatives and friends, and some may also teach medical students interested in pursuing their own careers in healthcare.

Research shows that women physicians are paid lower salaries than male peers, are less likely to be promoted, and spend approximately 8.5 more hours per week on household chores.

Without the proper support from their colleagues and employers, discriminatory actions and policies can lead to a high burnout rate among physician mothers. This can have a drastic effect on a healthcare facility’s ability to provide quality and efficient care.

Those surveyed are members of an active online community of physicians called Physician Moms Group, which contains over 600,000 physicians in the United States. A total of 5,782 physician moms completed UCSF’s survey. Sixty-six percent reported experiencing sex-based discrimination; 32% reported facing discrimination related to their pregnancy and taking maternity leave; 17% reported discrimination due to needing to breastfeed, and nearly 39% reported generally disrespectful treatment by nurses and other support staff. Of the 2,070 who reported maternal discrimination, the most common forms of such discrimination reported included disrespectful treatment, exclusion from administrative decision-making, and less pay.

Receiving fair and unbiased treatment in the workplace is paramount to ensure a smooth and efficient workplace that encourages collaboration and maximizes productivity. Several studies have demonstrated that family-friendly policies go a long way to increasing productivity, and as awareness grows, more investors are buying stocks in companies where such policies are in place.

A few things that employers are encouraged to implement include longer paid maternity leaves, backup childcare services, lactation support, and schedule flexibility. Among the top desired workplace changes suggested by surveyed mothers were:

  • Flexible weekday schedules
  • Salaries that are equal to their male colleagues with the same experience
  • Longer paid maternity leaves
  • The option to work part time
  • On-site child care
  • The option to not work on weekends
  • More sick days

At Bertini Law, we represent individuals who experience sex-based discrimination in the workplace, and also with companies looking to improve their employee policies. If you believe that you have been the subject of workplace discrimination in Virginia Beach, you have the right to pursue a fair and equitable workplace, and to resolve your issues with your employer. We know it can be tough to take legal action, which is why attorneys Lisa A. Bertini and Andrea Ruege show support and compassion at every step of the legal process. Call (757) 222-9165 to discuss your case with a knowledgeable sex discrimination attorney.

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