Top Medical Careers for Women

Following three waves of feminism to promote equal rights for women as well as equal pay for equal jobs, it seems there is still quite a large gender disparity in the medical community. The higher placed positions – surgeons, specialist doctors, general practitioners, etc. are still very much male dominated, whereas the more hands-on positions – nurse, midwife, health visitor – are still female dominated. Some of the medical careers that are classed as the top medical careers for women are listed below. These careers offer flexibility and their pay is generally equal to that of men. Furthermore, they also offer career advancement.

Women’s Health

Many women who need to see a practitioner about women’s health would prefer to see a female practitioner. Positions such as a fertility expert, gynecologist and midwife are positions in which women are very much needed, although perhaps still not sufficiently represented, particularly in the positions other than midwife or doula.

Medical Positions From Home

Medical transcription, healthcare recruiting and medical writing are all positions that can regularly be done from home. These jobs mean that women, who are in reality still responsible for the largest part of childcare and housework, are able to combine a career whilst not overstretching themselves as far as their other responsibilities go.

Pharmaceutical and Drugs Sales

Pharmaceutical companies are said to be some of the most women friendly environments as they generally offer flexible working, such as part time or job share opportunities and there is also much scope for career advancement.


Women are very much represented in the nursing profession. This is a wide profession that can be office based, hospital based, community based or even home based. As nurses generally work in shift patters, there is a reasonable amount of flexibility in working hours, again making this a career of choice for women.


As there are now more female medical students than male medical students, an influx is expected in female physicians. However, many roles are not seen as female roles because of the working hours and the expectation on women to take on childcare and other house responsibilities. This is why certain specialized positions, such as a brain surgeon, for example, are not so much a career of choice for women as they require a person to be on call at all times. However, non emergency positions such as a dermatologist offer regular working hours and many women now choose such careers.

Highest Paying Medical Careers and Female Representation

Medical careers are generally well paid jobs, in part because of the lengthy education that needs to be followed and also because of the high levels of responsibility the positions require. The highest paid medical careers are:

  • Cardiologists, who specialize in diagnosing and treating issues relating to the heart.
  • Radiologist, who use technology to diagnose and treat disorders and illnesses. Interventional radiologists, who have undertaken further specialization, earn the same on average as cardiologists.
  • Oncologists, who specialize in diagnosing and treating cancer. The highest paid oncologists are hematology oncologists, who deal with solid cancers and tumors.
  • Gastroenterologists, who specialize in problems and cancers of the digestive tracks.
  • Surgeons – the highest paid surgeons are cardiac or heart surgeons, orthopedic surgeons and transplant surgeons.

Looking at the female representation in a country like the United Kingdom for example, we find that only 7% of cardiology consultants are female, in radiology, only 24% of students are female and an even smaller number (around 17%) will work as a radiologist after their training. Only around 20% of the oncologist’s workforce is female, this is despite the fact that many cancers are women’s cancers only, such as ovarian cancer. In gastroenterology, women also represent around 20% of the workforce and for surgeons, only 15% of the workforce is female.

It is widely believed by women in the medical profession that some of the reasons for this disparity include long working hours and inflexibility, but that the main reason still is sexism and other forms of discrimination on the medical profession.

It has also been demonstrated that out of all female health practitioners, the vast majority are in public health at 49%, 44% work as pediatricians and only 8% work as a surgeon. One area where women do seem to be making great progress is in the field of General Practitioners, where women now represent around half of the workforce.

Top Medical Careers for Women – Glass Ceiling

It is still widely believed that women make up only a small percentage of the higher placed medical positions because of the idea that women need more time to look after their home and family. However, after the sexual revolution and three waves of feminism, wouldn’t it be possible for people to start realizing that women are just as entitled to a high placed medical career as men? This should be facilitated by either having better arrangements for childcare, or by men taking on a more leading role in caring for the family and the home. The world over, there is a significant increase of female medical students, in fact over half of medical students are women, hence this is still not reflected in the workforce. What is happening to all these women that spend years studying medicine?

It is believed that some of these women become homemakers once they have a family or that they take on roles that they are in reality over qualified for.

These types of statistics really demonstrate that there still is a long way to go before equality is achieved in the medical workplace. The culture of the medical profession itself needs to change, as discrimination is still very high amongst the male workforce, but also the mindset of both men and women, who both still see the woman as having to play the leading role in the home and hence being unsuited for positions with unusual hours or high stress levels.

Taking into consideration that many afflictions that need to be seen to by medical professionals are very specifically related to women, issues such as gynecology, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and even general medical issues, it is not just female medical students that are hard done by – it is women in general, who need to discuss issues that are very private and sensitive and be treated by men, who have no understanding of the female body and psyche other than that offered to them through their medical textbooks.

So what are the top medical careers for women? This will obviously depend entirely on your own personal choice and where your interests lie. However, it is very clear where more female medical practitioners are needed, in medical fields particularly relevant to women. Women often prefer to be seen by someone who truly understands the medical conditions they are facing, rather than someone who has learnt this only from books and experience. Much work is still needed, however, to allow women to achieve these roles, whether it be by offering better options for childcare, changing the entire culture of the medical profession or changing the mindset of both men and women.

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