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Medical women -- towards full integration? An analysis of the specialty choices made by two cohorts of Norwegian doctors


  • Gjerberg, Elisabeth


In Norway, as in most Western countries, doctors' choice of specialty has been strongly gendered. Female physicians have tended both to specialise to a lesser degree and to enter other specialties than male colleagues. In spite of the increase of women in medicine, previous studies have not managed to show any changes in this pattern. Comparing data from two cohorts of Norwegian doctors, authorised in 1970-73 and 1980-83 respectively, this article demonstrates that changes are in fact taking place. The changes are, however, not unequivocal. Firstly, women in these cohorts specialise to a very high degree and just as much as their male colleagues. Secondly, women doctors of the 1980s cohort spread their choice of specialisation over more fields than their predecessors did. They have, for example, started to enter surgery, although still not as often as men. Thirdly, proportionally more doctors of the 1980s cohort than the 1970s cohort have chosen general practice as their main specialty, and this applies to both women and men. Fourthly, there are tendencies towards an increasing concentration of women in some disciplines such as obstetrics and gynaecology, as well as paediatrics. These changes in doctors' pattern of specialisation are discussed as consequences of socially shaped individual preferences, structural aspects of the Norwegian health system and the existence of gendered closure mechanisms within specific medical fields. Although the medical profession still appears as a gender differentiated community, the article gives a more dynamic and in some respects a more optimistic picture than earlier studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Gjerberg, Elisabeth, 2001. "Medical women -- towards full integration? An analysis of the specialty choices made by two cohorts of Norwegian doctors," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 331-343, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:52:y:2001:i:3:p:331-343

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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. Andreassen, Leif & Di Tommaso, Maria Laura & Strøm, Steinar, 2013. "Do medical doctors respond to economic incentives?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 392-409.
    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. 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.


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