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Most physicians who are mothers report work discrimination

Houston-area doctors who are also mothers may have experienced discrimination in the workplace according to a report in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. The survey asked members of a group called the Physicians Moms Group, which has nearly 70,000 members, about their work experiences. Just under 6,000 women participated, and almost 80 percent said they had experienced some type of discrimination at work.

Two-thirds of the respondents reported gender discrimination, and slightly more than one-third reported discrimination that had to do with motherhood. Of those reporting discrimination related to motherhood, 32 percent described it as relating to maternity leave or pregnancy. Nearly one-fifth said they had problems breast feeding at work.

Other research has shown that women doctors are paid less than their male counterparts and are less likely to get promotions. Nearly 39 percent of respondents said they had been treated disrespectfully by coworkers, and differences in benefits and pay was included in this. However, equal pay was second to a desire for a more flexible weekday schedule according to respondents, and a longer period of paid maternity leave was also a priority. Study authors said better policies that supported mothers were necessary to keep women involved in the profession.

People who are experiencing any kind of discrimination in the workplace might want to speak to an attorney about the issue. An attorney can determine whether they are considered part of a protected class and whether the actions reported rise to the level of discrimination. For example, a single comment to a physician related to pregnancy or motherhood might not be discrimination because it is not part of an overall pattern. However, determining discrimination might be based on other factors as well, and documenting the incidents may be advisable.

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