Women's Professions

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by mirx, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. mirx Banned

    First of all, I am sure there are other similar threads that discuss similar topics, if you find one with the same substance of this, pleas direct me to it.

    I decided to start this thread as a result of a series of different situations that had, to some extent, similar views in this particular topic that I am about to start.

    Is being a "doctor" considered a men's job in your country? Is there more credit given to male doctors than to their counterpart females?

    Some of the reasons that brought me to finally post this thread are: a French female friend of mine told me it was not very common for women to be doctors, unless they were specialized in gynecology, or other area that dealt mostyl with other women. She also mentioned there was a word for a female doctor, -doctoress-, but is wasn't used because it was also consedered impolite. By calling a female doctor "doctoress" you were belittling her position as such.

    Also, in the Spanish only foroum, some Spaniards discussed how absurd the word "doctora" was, this came to me as a shock because I didn't know any other way to call a female doctor in Spanish. Spanish is a language that distinguishes genders, so this masculinasation of doctora first sounded a bit strange to me.

    And last, while watching an America sit-come, someone said that X woman was a doctor, the other person laughed and said "yeah, right. Like women can be doctors"

  2. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    In Austria there are already a great many female doctors (from your post it seems obvious that you are referring to doctor med. - there are doctor phil., rer. nat. and others too, of course) and interestingly, many gynaecologists in Austria are not female as you suggested but indeed male.

    The female version of 'doctor' however is not used very often here - once there was a suggestion to say 'doctrix' (short dx.) which didn't quite make it, now you sometimes see written 'dr.a', but to be honest I wouldn't know how to pronounce this (no one says 'doctora' here).

    I would not say that female doctors are already as accepted here in Austria than male doctors; many people, especially older ones, still would rather go to a male doctor if a grave problem occurs even if their general physician were female (and even if they'd think that she does a great job, as general physician).

    But overall I would say that at least in Austria the picture is not near as dark as you are describing it for Spain.
  3. marketeer Member

    USA, English
    Mirx, I can only speak from the American point of view, but that sitcom you quoted is a joke, only because it isn't true. It is so absurd (to think that a woman could not be a doctor) that it is funny to say it--it's archaic thinking, in other words.

    In the U.S., though male doctors still seem to outnumber females, it is not particularly noteworthy if a doctor is female (though perhaps moreso among older patients). Health insurance networks that provide directories of physicians, usually note the gender of the doctor. I believe this is because many females prefer going to female physicians--and not just for obstetrics and gynecology, but even their regular "family" physician.
  4. zuzanadoma Member

    Czech Republic (Czech)
    I don't think female doctors are viewed in any way as inferior to male doctors in the Czech Republic, both as general practitioners and specialists (my mother is a GP and my sister a very good neurologist :)).
    I never gave another thought to whether the doctor I consulted was a man or a woman, and, in fact, it never even crossed my mind anybody could.
    As for gynecologists, I think many ladies prefer women, for obvious reasons. I've been treated by two women gynecologists, and must say I'm more satisfied with the male gynecologist I've been seeing for the past few years - but that has hardly anything to do with the person's sex, he's simply more professional - which should be the point anyway.

    When I come to think of it, however, there still is some bias in language, though. While the female forms "doktorka" / "lékařka" are perfectly standard and commonly used both in speech and writing, you woudn't often see female doctors using these words on their office doors... I think they have stopped writing "MUDr. Klára Nováková, všeobecný lékař" (combination od female name and male name of the profession), though. I guess my sister's door reads "Neurologie" (the name of the field/specialization) :)
  5. Guillote1 New Member

    Argentina, Español
    At least here in Argentina, there is no prejudice against female doctors. And I should know, since my mum is a doctor and I pretty much grew up in a hospital! Granted, there are some branches of medicine that are mostly male-dominated, seen in the huge lack of female surgeons, for example. But I don't think anyone really cares wether a doctor is male or female anymore, even if males are seen more commonly in some branches.

    And about the word "doctora", there is nothing ridiculous about it and it is the word you use to describe a female doctor, used not only in coloquial language but also among the members of the profession and in all academic and scientific literature. In their official stamps and stuff, female doctors will have the contraction "Dra." in front of their name, not "Dr." These mean... yeah, you guessed it Doctora and Doctor. It is correct use of the language, so dismiss anything you might have heard on the contrary.
  6. pickypuck Senior Member

    Badajoz, Spanish Extremadura
    Extremaduran Spanish
    In Spanish we have médico and médica. There are people who use médico for women too, but doctor is never used for a woman, only doctora. Doctor and doctora was reserved for those having a PhD but now it is used for those having a bachelor in Medicine too. Maybe they meant this fact when they said it was an absurdity. I'd like to see that thread because "doctora" in Spain is a extremely common word (in fact it is the title female doctors use... Dra. Rovira, Dra. García, etc.). Being a PhD, I don't like at all that bachelors in Medicine are called "doctores" in Spanish (it gets on my nerves), but that is how the language has evolved.

    In 2004, the percentage of male and female doctors was 52.9 and 47.1, respectively. These percentages refer to those who can practise Medicine, i.e., members of the professional association (in Spain the membership is compulsory if a Medicine graduate wants to practise their profession).
    I'm sure that in the next years, there will be more female than male doctors in Spain, since most Medicine students are female. Well, I think this will applicable to any degree, since there are more women at the Spanish universities than men nowadays.

  7. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    In Finland the women's share of doctors (medical and others) in 2006 was 48,9 %.
  8. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    While in some Arab countries there are some professions that are viewed "men's work" and the female in such a profession is seen as "less-able" to assume the role, it does not include medicine. There is no distinction between a female physician and a male one and referring to her as Doktora or Tabeeba does not signify anything other than gender.

    The view, however, differs when the profession is engineering or construction.
  9. avok

    avok Banned

    There is no difference between men and women doctors here in Turkey. We use the same word "doktor" for both as Turkish is a gender-free language.
  10. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I would say the same about Portugal. The words for a female doctor of medicine in Portugal are doutora and médica. Unlike in some varieties of Spanish, they do not sound odd; it would be very weird to me for a female doctor to be called doutor or médico (except if you don't know her gender).
  11. mirx Banned

    Thanks to all for your responses.

    I was mostly interested what Arabs and French people had to say, so far it seems that it was only my friend that regards the practice of medicine as a male dominated profession.
  12. avok

    avok Banned

    Yes, but he might have just wanted to say that there are more male doctors in comparison with women regardless any sexist remark.
  13. mirx Banned

    That has something to do with a sexist remark, the fact that she mentioned "doctoress" was also not used because it diminishes the importance of the female doctor's position is also sexist.
  14. uchi.m

    uchi.m Banned

    Redeeming limbo
    Brazil, Portuguese
    In Brazil, we do not make any distinctions between a male and a female doctor. However, you will see more female doctors in some certain medical fields -- Pediatry, Dermatology -- than in others -- Urology, for instance.
  15. Trouts! Member

    British English
    In the UK, everyone's a doctor. "Doctoress" just sounds stupid to say.

    In fact, I think we're moving away from distinguishing between men and women - everyone is the same for many professions.

    For instance, I rarely see people use the word "comediene" to refer to a female comic - they are usually (by the general population) referred to by the (supposedly male) "comedian".

    Definitely for the younger population in England, gender is mattering less and less.
  16. Stiklas Member

    US- The lake
    I find it interesting to see the context in which you use the word "archaic".

    In present-day Lithuania no great distinction is made between male or female doctors, as is the case (I believe) in most if not all EU countries. However, we do use the male and female versions of the word respectively (daktaras/daktare), there is currently a greater amount of females in general med school (as oppesd to urology, veterinary, and certain other specific fields), and we have a certain apprecieation for a female doctor.

    :arrow:This has to do with our history- which has long periods of being matriarchal- female dominant. We call it "archaic" of us that there is a certain appreciation for female work in fields where the rest of the western world has, for a long time, prefered male. We tend to choose female doctors in areas were extra sensitivity, attentiveness and gentleness may be required (i.e. pediatry). We tend to choose males when firmness and mental/physical strength may be needed (i.e. surgeons).

    We use both daktaras/daktare respectively, and while it sounds wrong/incorect to our ears to call a female doctor by the male form it is completely seperated form our respect towards the female or any type of sexisim in occupations. It's simply correct language use...

    Anyway, thank you for listening to my ramble... ;)
  17. luis masci

    luis masci Banned

    Now that we have a woman as a president in Argentina, I realize there isn't a total consensus regarding how she should be called.
    Some say "presidente" while others say "presidenta". The same happens with "intendente/intendenta", when a woman is a mayor.
    This controversy didn't exist in the past. In that time, a woman as a president, or even as a mayor was inthinkable. Just about 50 years ago women even didn't have the right to vote in this country.
  18. Zsanna

    Zsanna ModErrata

    Hungarian - Hungary
    Although I'm neither but 20 years in France gave me some impression...
    I have to admit that on my first visit to a GP here I had a bit of a shock. It seemed to me as if I went back to the 60s (or even earlier, times and ways I know only from old films) in Hungary by what I saw: formalities, distances, expressed superiority of the doctor whose words had to be "worshipped" just as if "God's spoken". And of course, that goes better with male doctors than female ones.
    It has changed ever since but I cannot tell anymore if we reached yet the "20-year-back-in-Hungary" situation...
    I certainly feel that women here and in general are somehow still considered inferior (in any field) - even if men are doing their best to be more open minded.
  19. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    In the U.S? Not really. Although the majority of doctors might be men (just a guess), it's not unusual to see a female doctor. I'm sure most women prefer them as general practitioners.

    Nursing, on the other hand, is a traditional female occupation, though there are increasing numbers of men entering the nursing field.
  20. chics

    chics Senior Member

    Catalan - Spanish
    Buenos días.

    Me sorprende mucho este comentario. En España se utiliza siempre las palabras doctor y doctora, tanto para médicos -y médicas- como para designar personas que han obtenido un doctorado. En las consultas de los médicos, el nombre de cada uno está escrito precedido siempre de Dr. o de Dra., por lo que, aunque sólo veamos el apellido, siempre sabemos si se trata de un hombre o de una mujer.

    En España además, las profesiones relacionadas con las ciencias de la salud: medicina, farmacia, etc. se consideran femeninas. Ya te han dado estadísticas del conjunto de médicos de todas las edades en España, mitad y mitad, pero es que en las universidades ya hace tiempo que sólo hay chicas que estudian medicina. Una de mis mejores amigas acabó la carrera hace diez años y ya en su curso había un sólo chico por cada setenta chicas, por entonces las estadísticas decían que el porcentaje de chicas además iba en aumento...

    No opino personalmente, por alguna razón se considera por aquí -sin atacar nunca la feminidad ni masculinidad de nadie- que profesiones como la medicina son más de mujeres mientras que otras como la informática lo son más de hombres. Me van a saltar muchos ahora diciendo que son médicos, o mujeres que son informáticas, claro que hay; pero parece que aquí y en la actualidad, hay algunas profesiones a las que tiende a decantarse más gente de un sexo que de otro.

    En cuanto a los que ejercen, en algunas especialidades las mujeres tienden a preferir mujeres. El caso más claro es el de ginecología. En la seguridad social de mi barrio hay un conocidísimo médico que ha publicado numerosos estudios, etc. pues apenas tiene pacientes. Las mujeres prefieren una chica no conocida y sin experiencia, con una larga lista de espera, a tenerle a él. Y esto es un ejemplo de un caso real que me comentaba la enfermera cuando fui a pedir hora. El hombre cerró su consulta privada, por cierto. Hay también una evolución: mi madre está en la sesentena y me comenta que alguna amiga suya a pasado de preferir un hombre cuando era muy joven -y mi madre, que era más "moderna" se escandalizaba- a que le dé igual, para posteriormente exigir mujeres en distintas especialidades.

    Mi amiga, que ahora es médica generalista, me comenta que, cuando tiene que enviar pacientes a especialistas, cada día tiene mujeres de todas las edades le piden "que sea una mujer": para psiquiatras, dermatólogas, pediatras, etc. Prefieren hablar "de mujer a mujer". Los hombres en pareja suelen preferir "el que tenga ella" y a los demás parece que les da igual. Bueno, mis amigos varones dicen que prefieren urólogas mujeres. :D:D:DPara lo que parece que nunca nadie se preocupa es cuando se trata de una urgencia. :D

    En Francia los apellidos de los médicos y médicas van siempre precedidos de Dr., y es bastante incómodo. Hace poco buscaba uno en una lista y me tenía que guiar por el nombre de pila, y por supuesto los de nombre ambiguo (Dominique, y otros que pueden ser de hombre o de mujer) los excluí, por si acaso. No estaba sola: era para una amiga francesa. Otras amigas francesas, residentes en España, me han preguntado si pueden elegir hombre o mujer, por que quieren una mujer. También he oído comentarios de franceses varones que prefieren mujeres, "por que trabajan mejor", pero no creo que las busquen o pidan expresamente.

    Nada más lejos de mi intención que rebajar las capacidades de los hombres para ser médicos, que tengan menos prestigio, ni que son peores ni nada parecido. Sólo comentar que mi percepción es que en España, parece en cualquier caso lo tienen más difícil, no más fácil, en especial los más jóvenes que no tienen una clientela ya fija y fiel desde hace muchos años.

    Saludos. :)
  21. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    It is less shocking now, at least among GPs. However, in research or in hospitals, most heads of departments are male doctors. And some "grands patrons" still expect to be worshipped like gods.
    It might be a matter of generation. Families were not as ready to invest as much time and money on the education of female children in the past. The evolution is gradual.
    I still remember one of my math teachers in secondary, telling me that "science was not for girls" :thumbsdown:. Aaaargh. Stupid old man. :mad:
  22. mirx Banned

    Thanks, I appreciate your input.

    That's what I am talking about. Is this still prevalent in nowadays France, or is it something only of some French rural areas?

    In México there are some occupations like, truck-driver or mechanic, were women are practically non-existant; but women have been pioneers, and in cases outnumbered thier male counterparts, in science and other related fields since many years ago.

    Thanks again Nanon.
  23. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    It was never like that here in Austria, as far as I remember (and I'm about your age it seems).
    And in our times right now female doctors in Austria are nothing out of the ordinary at all, as I already wrote above.

    There's only still a slight male dominance especially in the most prestigious fields - for example, in surgery where the chief surgeon is more likely male than female.

    Doctors who think of themselves that they are half-gods may exist in Austria, of that I cannot be sure, however the only doctor (and a GP at that) I ever came across who had the seeds of this attitude was a German practicioning in Austria, and not an Austrian.
  24. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    It is less prevalent now, and it was not necessarily rural but also social.
    In the past, girls were encouraged to become nurses or teachers or secretaries because they had the required "qualities" to exert those professions. Alternatively they could raise their children. Boys had more choices. Upper-class boys and also girls had even more choices. But this has been changing during the past decades (my math teacher was a real dinosaur...)

    Female truck-drivers or mechanics are seldom found, but:
    a) how can we make sure that becoming a mechanic (for a boy) is a real choice, a vocation? Isn't it sometimes a default choice?
    b) Female bus-drivers are slightly more frequent
    c) Science: all depends on the field. Nowadays the number of female engineers is growing. Some areas are more masculine or feminine than others. Physics still seems a little more masculine than chemistry and biology. But again, this is relative and evolving constantly.

    Good to see there are intelligent people in this world.
    Nowadays female doctors are nothing out of the ordinary in France either. My GP is a woman and I rely entirely on her. I did not choose her (yes, in France, we choose our GP) because she was a woman - it was a random choice...
  25. IxOhOxI

    IxOhOxI Member

    The flux of the social value, I would say. Back in the decades ago, the children especially boys were grown (or even forced) to be a doctor by the parents since they always thought that being a doctor was well-paid, had a good welfare, and sure was the showpiece. The faculty of medical science was popular among men, as for women's would be the faculty of liberal arts (literature). Anyway, many women would rather go for the nurse's job instead of the doctor's because being a doctor was a hard work, plus in old days, women were the followers in the family and that they were taught to taking care of the housework and the kids. But now, the value has changed some people's ideal, women are outgoing like men and can depend on themselves more. That's why the percentage of the female doctors rises than before but not as equal as male doctors though, concerning the old social value.

    And, women absolutely have an ability to be a doctor if they want to (or are forced to). It is said that the so-called professions for female aren't doctor nor engineer. So, it's not that they require the male doctor more than the female doctor, as I mentioned it's because of the influence of society which were forcing most men to be the doctors and not females.

    I barely heard they call a female doctor the 'doctress' I think it sounds funny and uncommon, that word even in my language which is Thai isn't used to call a female doctor at all unless if it were to use in the public and needed to be formal. We usually call 'doc' for both gender but not 'doctress'. In my country, such word isn't considered as impolite but it's just infrequent.
  26. mirx Banned

    My friend is from Rennes, she was surprised when I told her two family members were doctors, female doctors.

    Thanks very much IxOhOxI, I think is wonderful that all these changes are taking place in your society. Just one thing, docotress (not sure of spelling) is the female word for doctor in French, languages that make gender distinctions usually have different words to refer to two profesionals specialized in the same field but with different sex.
  27. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Mirx, the spelling is "doctoresse". It is used only for medicine (a woman with a PhD title is always... "docteur") and yes, as you said in your initial post, it sounds somehow belittling.
    Related French resources and threads.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 1, 2008
  28. Sarah Tissot

    Sarah Tissot Senior Member

    El Paso, Texas, USA
    Switzerland, French / Suisse romand :)
    I think that as far as France nowadays, it is more of a language issue than a social one. The vocabulary tried to reflect feminism by "inventing" feminine terms for professions that were usually dominated by males such as "doctoresse" but then it turned out that females who reached those high spheres of academia did not want these new "made up titles" but the old ones that they had strived for! They felt that since they had achieved the same studies and proved themselves as capable as a man, they deserved the same word and deserved to be named, in this case "docteur". There are still many names of professions in French that do not really have a feminine and a masculine such as "un écrivain ", pretty much all the titles in the military or there is also the opposite "une sage-femme" (which is a profession that now has men) does not have a masculine. The word "professeur" is also quite interesting. Even though the informal "prof" can be either "un prof" or "une prof", the full word "professeur" is only masculine even though there was an attempt to feminize it, it didn't catch. You might find this link interesting http://www.erudit.org/revue/ethno/2003/v25/n2/008054ar.html
    In English, I don't think there is such a stigma, simply due to the fact that words don't have a gender.
  29. Lusitania Senior Member

    Portugal Portuguese
    A few years ago there was a responsible for the Doctor Bar in Portugal that said that said that there should be a quota for women doctors (women are a majority as in many jobs, but Portugal is one of the European countries where there are more Women Scientists) as they get pregnant and they have children, so they can't dedicate themselves to the job because they have children and so it's difficult to have night shifts. The Minister of Health agreed.

    There was a huge bruá and then the Doctors Bar apologized and the government was desmissed by the President of the Republic. It seems that they were living in another planet.
  30. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    I've just checked the 2011 statistics of the Czech Republic.
    Generally speaking we can state it is 50/50, 37400 specialist, exactly 50% females! :)
    On the other hand there are feminized and masculinized professions ans I dare to say it is partly the result of the former communist regime and the Soviet model. Like they made many female paediatricians, which was not typical for Western countries, and now about 3/4 of paediatrician are females. Other feminized specialities are: dermatology 80% and ophthalmology 72%, then, typical male specialities are: surgery 87%, cardiology 76%, neurosurgery 129 males-7 females, traumatology 224 males - 2 females, urology 86%, the rest of the main specialities is about 50/50.
  31. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    The feminized form of many profession is not in common use in France and to use it sounds belittling as it draws attention to the gender of the person. I have heard there is not this belittling effect in other francophone countries like Quebec where une écrivaine, une professeure, une présidente, une proviseure may be the norm. I don't see why this should not be the case in France, but it just isn't. To call attention to the gender of a person you have to create highfalutin long forms such as Madame le président, Madame le maire, Madame le proviseur. Otherwise you have to use the masculine form for women as if they were men, which for me is also somewhat uncomfortable: Madame Richard est un bon professeur. I cannot think of any feminine form for docteur or médecin. I've never heard doctoresse. When I see my doctor who is a woman I say Bonjour Docteure. I add a syllable that could be construed by her either as feminizing or if not as an affected pronunciation of Docteur. That way I stay neutral. ;)
  32. germanbz Senior Member

    Benicàssim - Castelló - Spain
    Spanish-Spain/Catalan (Val)
    I was going to answer to the same "sentence" but Chics, has explained quite well the situation in Spain about male and female doctors. I really wonder where in the world that weird an false ideas are made. "some Spaniards discussed how absurd the word "doctora" was". I suposse that with "some" it is possible you are talking about five or six persons (among 45 milion).

    You can be sure that "doctora" in Spanish is as involved in controversy as words like: mesa, pan, suelo or manzana.

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