Women in the Health Professions

  • Martha Sajatovic
  • Susan Hatters-Friedman
  • Isabel Schuermeyer
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-306-48113-0_3


Women make up 50% of the global population and 51% of the U.S. population, representing a large and diverse group of individuals (United Nations, 1995; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1999). In the United States, employment patterns for women have changed tremendously over the last several decades. For example, in 1950, women represented 34% of the workforce compared to 60% in 1997 (Wagener et al., 1997). The occupational roles and working conditions of women also vary dramatically and have changed over the last decades, profoundly influenced by economics and sociopolitical culture.

Currently, women in the health care professions deliver a vast array of diverse services, including preventative care, primary care, acute and specialized services, and care in a variety of settings. In 1996, registered nurse was the fourth and nurse’s aide/orderly was the sixth leading occupation for women (U.S. Department of Labor, 1997). The growing trend for higher education among women has...


Sexual Harassment Respiratory Therapist Female Physician Cesarian Section Rate Career Satisfaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Achterberg, J. (1990). Women as health-care provider: Realities of the marketplace. In J. Achterberg (Ed.), Woman as healer (pp. 171–187). Boston, MA: Shambhala.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    American College of Cardiology. (1998). The ACC professional life survey: Career decisions of women and men in cardiology. A report of the committee on women in cardiology. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 32, 827–835.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    American Medical Association. (1997/1998). Physician characteristics and distribution in the U.S. Chicago: Author.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Barnett, R. C., & Baruch, G. K. (1987). Social roles, gender and psychological distress. In R. C. Barnett, L. Biener, & G. K. Baruch (Eds.), Gender and stress (pp. 122–143). New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Becker, J. E. (2002). What’s a smart woman like you doing at home? Obstetrics and Gynecology, 99(5), 832–834.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Brodie, P. (2002). Addressing the barriers to midwifery—Australian midwives speaking out. Australian Journal of Midwifery, 15(3), 5–14.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bruder, P. (2001). Verbal abuse of female nurses: An American medical form of gender apartheid? Hospital Topics, 79(4), 30–34.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Castledine, G. (1983). Opening the gates on gender traits. Nursing Mirror, 156(15), 16.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chin, E. L. (2002). Historical perspective. In E. L. Chin (Ed.), This side of doctoring. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chur-Hansen, A. (2002). Preferences for female and male nurses: The role of age, gender and previous experience—year 2000 compared with 1984. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(2), 192–198.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Clancy, C. M. (2000). Gender issues in women’s health. In M. D. Goldman & M. C. Hatch (Eds.), Women and health (p. 52). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Collins, R. L., Gollnisch, G., & Morsheimer, E. T. (1998). Work stress, coping, and substance use among female nurses. In D. L. Wetherington & A. B. Roman (Eds.), Drug addiction research and the health of women: Executive summary (pp. 319–337). Washington, DC: National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Council on Graduate Medical Education. (1995). Women in medicine. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cull, W. L., Mulvey, H. J., O’Connor, K. G., Sowell, D. R., Berkowitz, C. D., & Britton, C. V. (2002). Pediatricians working part-time: Past, present, and future. Pediatrics, 109(6), 1015–1020.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Davis, K., Scott Collins, K., & Schoen, C. (2000). Women’s health and managed care. In M. D. Goldman & M. C. Hatch (Eds.), Women and health (pp. 55–63). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Dickstein, L. J. (1996). Overview of women physicians in the United States. In D. Ware (Ed.), Women in medical education: An anthology of experience. NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ehrenreich, B., & English, D. (1973). Witches, midwives, and nurses. Old Westbury, NY: Feminist Press.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Epstein, L. C. (2002). Sex differences in career progression and satisfaction in an academic medical center. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57, 195–207.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Flores, G. (2002). Mad scientists, compassionate healers, and greedy egotists: The portrayal of physicians in the movies. Journal of the National Medical Association, 94(7), 635–658.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Francke, G. N. (1987). Women in a changing profession. American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 44(12), 2708.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Franks, P., & Clancy, C. M. (1993). Physician gender bias in clinical decision making: Screening for cancer in primary care. Medical Care, 31, 213–218.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Friedman, E. (1994). An unfinished revolution: Women and health care in America (p. 285). United Hospital Fund of New York.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Froehlich, J. (1992). Proud and visible as occupational therapists. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46(11), 1042–1044.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Fye, W. B. (2002). President’s page: Women cardiologists: Why so few? Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 40(2), 384–386.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Garratt, R. A. (2001). The midwife as healer. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, 7(4), 197–201.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Garvin, C., & Sledge, S. (1992). Sexual harassment within dental offices in Washington State. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 66(4), 178–184.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Gary, D. L. (2002). The why and wherefore of empowerment: The key to job satisfaction and professional advancement. Nursing Forum, 32(3), 33–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Grumbach, K. (2002). Women in medicine: A four-nation comparison. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57, 185–190.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Hart-Brothers, E. (1994). Contributions of women of color to the health care of America. In E. Friedman (Ed.), An unfinished revolution: Women and health care in America (p. 285). United Hospital Fund of New York.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Henderson, M. L. (2000). Women in pharmacy: Twenty-five years of growth. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 34, 943–946.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Jonasson, O. (2002). Leaders in American surgery: Where are the women? Surgery, 131, 672–675.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kennedy, H. P. (2002). The midwife as an “instrument” of care. American Journal of Public Health, 92(11), 1759–1760.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Lathom, W. B. (1982). Survey of current functions of a music therapist. Journal of Music Therapy, 19(1), 2–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Lee, C., Duxbury, L., & Higgen, C. (1994). Employed mothers: Balancing work and family life. Ottawa: Canadian Center for Management Development.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Letvak, S. (2001). Nurses as working women. Association of Operating Room Nurses Journal, 73(3), 675–682.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Levin, B. (1988). Women and medicine: Pioneers meeting the challenge (2nd ed.). Lincoln, NE: Media.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Libbus, M. K., & Bowman, K. G. (1994). Sexual harassment of female registered nurses in hospitals. Journal of Nursing Administration, 24(6), 26–31.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Linzer, M., McMurray, J. E., Visser, M. R. M., Oort, F. J., Smets, E. M. A., & DeHaes, H. C. J. M. (2002). Sex differences in physician burnout in the United States and the Netherlands. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57(4), 191–193.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lurie, N., Slater, J., McGovern, P., Ekstrum, J., Quam, I., & Margolis, K. (1993). Preventative care for women. Does the sex of the physician matter? New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 478–482.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Magnussen, L. (1998). Women’s choices: An historical perspective of nursing as a career choice. Journal of Professional Nursing, 14(3), 175–183.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Manson, J. A., Rockhill, B., Resnick, M., Shore, E., Nadelson, C., Horner, M., et al. (2002). Sex differences in career progress and satisfaction in an academic medical center. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57(4), 194.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    McMurray, J. E., Cohen, M., Angus, G., Harding, J., Gavel, P., Horvath, J., et al. (2002). Women in medicine: A four-nation comparison. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Asociation, 57(4), 185–190.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Messing, K. (1997). Women’s occupational health: a critical review and discussion of current issues. Women Health, 25(4), 39–68.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Messing K. (2000). Multiple roles and complex exposures: Hard to pin down risks for working women. In M. D. Goldman & M. C. Hatch (Eds.), Women & health (pp. 455–461). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Miller, R. J. (1992). Interwoven threads: Occupational therapy, feminism, and holistic health. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 46(11), 1013–1019.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Muldoon, O. T., & Kremer, J. M. (1995). Career aspirations, job satisfaction, and gender identity in female student nurses. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 21(3), 544–550.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Newton, J., Buck, D., & Gibbons, D. (2001). Workforce planning in dentistry: The impact of shorter and more varied career patterns. Community Dental Health, 18(4), 236–241.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Newton, J., Thorogood, N., & Gibbons, D. (2000). The work patterns of male and female dental practitioners in the United Kingdom. International Dental Journal, 50(2), 61–68.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Nora, L. M. (2002). Academic medicine gets a poor report card—what are we going to do? Academic Medicine, 77(10), 1062–1066.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Palepu, A., & Herbert, C. P. (2002). Medical women in academia: The silences we keep. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 167, 877–879.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Price, S. (1990). A profile of women dentists. Journal of the American Dental Association, 120(4), 403–408.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Quandt, W. G., & McKercher, P. L. (1982). Perceptions of work among men and women pharmacists in nonadministrative positions. American Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 32(11), 1948–1951.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Reed, A., & Roberts, J. E. (2000). State regulation of midwives: Issues and options. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 45(2), 130–149.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Romero, L. C. (2002). Midwifery in Mexico. Midwifery Today International Midwife, 63, 47–50.Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Rooks, J. P. (1997). Midwifery and childbirth in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Rooks, J. P. (1999). The midwifery model of care. Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, 44(4), 370–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Rosenstein, A. H., Russell, H., & Lauve, R. (2002). Disruptive physician behavior contributes to nursing shortage. Physician Executive, 28(6), 8–11.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. 58.
    Ross, J. A. (2002). Looming public health crisis: The nursing shortage of today. Journal of Perianestbesia Nursing, 17(5), 337–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Roter, D., Lipkin, M., & Korgnard, A. (1991). Sex differences in patients and physicians communication during primary care medical visits. Medical Care, 29, 1083–1093.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Rozier, C. K., Raymond, M. J., Goldstein, M. S., & Hamilton, B. L., (1998). Gender and physical therapy career success factors. Physical Therapy, 78(7), 690–704.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Salsberg, E. S., & Forte, G. J. (2002). Trends in the physician workforce, 1980–2000. Health Affairs, 21(5), 165–173.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Scarbecz, M., & Ross, J. (2002). Gender differences in first-year dental studentsrs motivation to attend dental school. Journal of Dental Education, 66(8), 952–961.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Schuiling, K. D., & Slager, J. (2000). Scope of practice: Freedom within limits. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 45(6), 465–471.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 64.
    Scott, H. (2002). The nursing profession must be more assertive over pay. British Journal of Nursing, 11(19), 1228.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Shoaf, P. R., & Gagnon, J. P. (1980). A comparison of female and male Pharmacists’ employment benefits, salary, and job satisfaction. Contemporary Pharmacy Practice, 3(1), 47–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Slining, J. (2000). Women’s role in pharmacy practice in the year 2000. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 34, 950–954.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Solomon, E., & Hayes, M. (1995). Gender and the transition into practice. Journal of Dental Education, 59(8), 836–840.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Sonnad, S. S., & Colletti, L. M. (2002). Issues in the recruitment and success of women in academic surgery. Surgery, 132(2), 415–419.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Spickard, A., Gabbe, S. G., & Christensen, J. F. (2002). Mid-career burnout in generalist and specialist practices. Journal of the American Medical Association, 288(12), 1447–145PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Stellman, J. M., & Lucas, A. (2000). Women’s occupational health: International perspectives. In M. D. Goldman & M. C. Hatch (Eds.), Women & health (pp. 514–522). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    Stewart, F., & Drummond, J. (2000). Women and the world of dentistry. British Dental Journal, 188(1), 7–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 72.
    Tierney, D., Romito, P., & Messing, K. (1990). She ate not the bread of idleness: Exhaustion is related to domestic and salaried work of hospital workers in Quebec. Women Health, 16, 21–42.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 73.
    United States Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. (1989). Health characteristics of workers by occupation and sex: United States, 1983–85 (Adv. Data, No. 168). Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  74. 74.
    United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1988). Labor force statistics derived from the current population survey, 1948–87 (Bulletin 2307, pp. 195–300). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  75. 75.
    United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (1997). Employment and earnings. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.Google Scholar
  76. 76.
    United States Department of Labor, Occupational outlook handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2003). Respiratory therapists. Retrieved April 7, 2003, from www.bls.gov/oco/ocos084.htmGoogle Scholar
  77. 77.
    Verbrugge, L. M., & Steiner, R. P. (1981). Physician treatment of men and women patients: Sex bias or appropriate care? Medical Care, 19, 609–632.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 78.
    Wagener, D. K., Walstedt, J., Jenkins, L., Burnett, C., Lalich, N., & Fingerhut, M. (1997). Women: Work and health (DHHS Publication No. PHS 97-1415). Vital Health Statistics, 3(31), 1–91.Google Scholar
  79. 79.
    Waldenstrom, U. (1997). Challenges and issues for midwifery. Australian College of Midwives Incorporated Journal, 10(3), 11–17.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. 80.
    Wallace, A. E., & Weeks, W. B. (2002). Differences in income between male and female primary care physicians. Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 57(4), 180–184.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. 81.
    Welstedt, J. (2000). Employment patterns and health among U.S. working women. In M. D. Goldman & M. C. Hatch (Eds.), Women & health (pp. 447–454). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 82.
    West, S. (2000). Women in pharmacy: Some predictions for women students and faculty. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, 34, 947–949.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. 83.
    White, J. M. (2001). Music as intervention. Nursing Clinics of North America, 36(1), 83–92.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  84. 84.
    Wolfgand, A. P. (1995). Job stress, coworker social support, and career commitment: A comparison of female and male pharmacists. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10(6), 149–160.Google Scholar
  85. 85.
    Zawacki, R. A., Shahan, R., & Carey, M. (1995). Who has higher job satisfaction: Male or female nurses? Nursing Management, 26(1), 54–55.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Suggested Resources

  1. 1.
    United Nations. (1995). 1992 statistics projected to 1995. Sex and age distribution of the world’s population. www.un.orgGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    United States Bureau of Census, Population Division. (1999). United States population estimates by age, sex, race, and Hispanic origin, 1990–1997. Retrieved July 1999, from www.census.gov/population/estimates/nationGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha Sajatovic
  • Susan Hatters-Friedman
  • Isabel Schuermeyer

There are no affiliations available