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Women doctors in Norway: the challenging balance between career and family life


  • Gjerberg, Elisabeth


In most Western countries, women doctors are still underrepresented in the higher positions in the medical hierarchy and in the most prestigious specialities. A crucial question is whether family responsibilities affect female and male career differently. The article examines how Norwegian physicians balance their work and family responsibilities and demonstrates differences in the way doctors combine work and family obligations, between women and compared with men. Among women doctors, the probability of becoming a specialist decreased with an increasing number of children. Moreover, postponing the birth of the first child increased the probability of completing hospital specialities. Although more women than men work part-time, this was the case only for a small proportion of women doctors. Transition from full-time to part-time work is primarily an accommodating strategy to family responsibilities, however strongly influenced by variations in the opportunity structure of different specialities. The findings further demonstrate that being married to another doctor had a positive impact on the career, especially for women doctors.

Suggested Citation

  • Gjerberg, Elisabeth, 2003. "Women doctors in Norway: the challenging balance between career and family life," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 57(7), pages 1327-1341, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:7:p:1327-1341

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    Cited by:

    1. Johannessen, Karl-Arne & Hagen, Terje P., 2012. "Variations in labor supply between female and male hospital physicians: Results from a modern welfare state," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 107(1), pages 74-82.
    2. 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.
    3. Wang, Chao & Sweetman, Arthur, 2013. "Gender, family status and physician labour supply," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 17-25.
    4. Cathrine Seierstad & Gill Kirton, 2015. "Having It All? Women in High Commitment Careers and Work–Life Balance in Norway," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 390-404, July.
    5. Kaneto, Chie & Toyokawa, Satoshi & Inoue, Kazuo & Kobayashi, Yasuki, 2009. "Gender difference in physician workforce participation in Japan," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 115-123, January.
    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. 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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