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Female Doctors Have More Household Chores Than Male Counterparts

Update Date: Mar 03, 2014 07:15 PM EST

Female doctors spend more time than their male counterparts on parenting and household tasks, according to a new study.

Researchers said the latest findings could explain why female academic physicians generally do not have the same career success as their male colleagues.

"One might expect that within a highly educated Generation X population there would be a relatively even distribution of domestic labor. But what we found was that there still seems to be a difference in the expectations at home for men and women, even for those with very busy jobs, even today," study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Health System, said in a news release.

The latest findings involved 1,055 people with a medical degree who had recently received career development awards from the National Institutes of Health. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about how they allocated their time and what their family responsibilities looked like

Researchers found that male physicians were married were almost four times more likely to have a spouse who was not employed or only worked part-time compared to female physicians who were married. Male physicians who were married with children also reported working seven hours longer and spending 12 fewer hours on parenting and domestic tasks each week than female physicians who were married with children.

"It's possible some of these differences are explained by the ability of male physicians to still support the traditional breadwinner model of a family. The vast majority of women in our sample were married to full-time working spouses, whereas a majority of the men had part-time or non-working spouses," Jagsi says.

Even after accounting for spouse's employment t and other factors, researchers found that female doctors who were married with children spent 8.5 hours more on parenting and domestic activities than their male counterparts.

"This may also reflect the impact of some very subtle unconscious expectations we all have, and these have been resistant to change," Jagsi explained.

"Medicine needs to be a profession in which both men and women can succeed and an environment in which women can be successful role models," Jagsi concluded. "We are seeing a growing appreciation of the need to facilitate work-life balance for both men and women, but it is important to recognize how this continues to challenge women more than men in our society."

The findings are published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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