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Career preferences and the work-family balance in medicine: gender differences among medical specialists


  • Heiligers, Phil J. M.
  • Hingstman, L.


In this article career preferences of medical specialists in the Netherlands are analysed, based on a survey among the members of medical associations of five specialties. Four different career preferences were offered, each of which implied a possible variation in working hours. A questionnaire was sent to a random selected group of working specialists in general practice, internal medicine, anaesthesiology, ophthalmology and psychiatry. Logistic regressions were used to predict career preferences. Besides individual characteristics, work and home domain characteristics were taken into the analysis. Not surprisingly, the preference for career change in respect of working hours is higher among full-time MDs, especially women, than among part-time workers. In contradiction to what was expected, home domain characteristics did not predict a part-time preference for female, but for male MDs. One home domain characteristic, children's age, did predict the male part-time preference. Further gender differences were found in respect of the fit between actual and preferred working hours (A/P-fit). The majority of male MDs with a full-time preference had achieved an A/P-fit, whereas significantly less female MDs achieved their preferences. It was found that hospital-bound specialists are less positive towards part-time careers than other specialists. Furthermore, the change of working hours would imply a reduction in FTE for all specialties, if all preferences were met. Especially in hospital-bound specialisms it was not confirmed that the reduction in FTE would be low; this was found only in respect of interns. It may be concluded that individual preferences in career paths are very diverse. Personnel policy in medical specialties, especially in hospitals, will have to cope with changes in traditional vertical and age-related career paths. Flexible careers related to home domain determinants or other activities will reinforce a life cycle approach, in which the centrality of work is decreasing.

Suggested Citation

  • Heiligers, Phil J. M. & Hingstman, L., 2000. "Career preferences and the work-family balance in medicine: gender differences among medical specialists," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(9), pages 1235-1246, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:50:y:2000:i:9:p:1235-1246

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    Cited by:

    1. Van den Brink, Marieke, 2011. "Scouting for talent: Appointment practices of women professors in academic medicine," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 72(12), pages 2033-2040, June.
    2. Kodama, Tomoko & Koike, Soichi & Matsumoto, Shinya & Ide, Hiroo & Yasunaga, Hideo & Imamura, Tomoaki, 2012. "The working status of Japanese female physicians by area of practice: Cohort analysis of taking leave, returning to work, and changing specialties from 1984 to 2004," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 214-220.
    3. de Jong, Judith D. & Heiligers, Phil & Groenewegen, Peter P. & Hingstman, Lammert, 2006. "Why are some medical specialists working part-time, while others work full-time?," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(2-3), pages 235-248, October.
    4. Scott, Anthony & Witt, Julia & Humphreys, John & Joyce, Catherine & Kalb, Guyonne & Jeon, Sung-Hee & McGrail, Matthew, 2013. "Getting doctors into the bush: General Practitioners' preferences for rural location," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 33-44.
    5. Johannessen, Karl-Arne & Hagen, Terje P., 2013. "Individual and hospital-specific factors influencing medical graduates' time to medical specialization," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 170-175.
    6. Nomura, Kyoko & Gohchi, Kengo, 2012. "Impact of gender-based career obstacles on the working status of women physicians in Japan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(9), pages 1612-1616.
    7. Sjöberg, Lennart, 2001. "Emotional Intelligence and Life Adjustment: A Validation Study," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration 2001:8, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 01 Sep 2008.
    8. Heikkilä, Teppo Juhani & Hyppölä, Harri & Aine, Tiina & Halila, Hannu & Vänskä, Jukka & Kujala, Santero & Virjo, Irma & Mattila, Kari, 2014. "How do doctors choose where they want to work? – Motives for choice of current workplace among physicians registered in Finland 1977–2006," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 114(2), pages 109-117.


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