President’s Report October 2011

Am I the only one feeling that we are hurtling through the year? The shock comment of ‘Christmas is only 9 weeks away’ this week sent shivers of horror down my spine.

Apart from the hectic wind up to the medical year (my practice experiences a ‘rush’ every year!), I also have to sort out Santa, the extended family, kids end of year concerts, think about confirming summer holiday plans plus fit in AGM’s (including the AFMW AGM – in Melbourne Sat Nov 19 2011 see details in this newsletter).

Outside the medical world, women can now have equality on the battlefield of war and there has been very interesting data around women in business as many of Australia’s biggest companies have published new figures on the proportion of women on their staff and in senior ranks, in order to comply early with new ASX corporate governance guidelines that start next year.

So what about medical women? We remain in the same boat as the other professional women: the ‘pipeline theory’ isn’t working. Medical women are still under-represented in the senior areas of medicine (Professors, Unit Heads, Colleges) despite graduating in at least equal numbers since 1979 and being over-represented in terms of academic achievement at graduation. Women now comprise 60% of the graduating medical classes.

There is good news though for those of you who still hear about ‘the feminisation of the workforce’ being the cause of a medical workforce shortage. You will be glad to know that those who promote that view are now ‘out of date’. There is a growing body of evidence that the life-time workforce ‘participation’ rate of medical women is equal and possibly greater than that of medical men and there are also interesting studies relating to efficiency and efficacy. In my view, the most dangerous thing about blaming women for the ‘change’ we see about us is that it distracts people from problem solving the real issues: the generational change in attitude about ‘work’ and major changes in the work environment.

If you are interested in more information on this topic check out the AFMW website. If you see anything that adds to this debate, please email us at afmw@ afmw.org.au.

Meanwhile, all of us at AFMW continue to volunteer to act as a voice for Medical Women and to advocate to the health of all Australians particularly women and children. If you would like to contribute to the broader issues facing medical women then ensure your membership is up to date and put up your hand to contribute to your local State organization by nominating for a 2012 Committee position.

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