How Discrimination Against Female Doctors Hurts Patients

Harvard Business Review


Myers, C.G., & Sutcliffe, K.M. (2018, August). How discrimination against female doctors hurts patients. Harvard Business Review, Digital article.


Systematic discrimination against women in medicine constitutes a potential threat to patient safety and public health. Accumulating evidence shows that women deliver superior care. For example, one study of over 1.5 million Medicare patients found that those who were treated by a female physician were less likely to die or be readmitted to the hospital within 30 days than those patients treated by a male physician. A separate study of over 100,000 surgical patients found the same effect: Patients who were operated on by a female surgeon were significantly less likely to die within the next 30 days. While the underlying mechanisms driving these differences have yet to be fully explored, evidence suggests that female physicians bring unique perspectives to their practice that can improve care. Barriers restricting the access and development of women’s careers in medicine need to be removed, and the field must do a better job of promoting, supporting, and rewarding female physicians.