According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, approximately 80 percent of doctors who are mothers face some type of discrimination in the workplace. The study examined 6,000 female doctors with children in a variety of specialties and asked them about their experiences with workplace discrimination and their desired changes to their workplaces. The participants reported many different types of discrimination, from fewer advancement opportunities than their peers to pay discrepancies.
Discrimination in the workplace can hinder the victim’s career by keeping them from advancing to higher pay grades. Advancement can also bring better benefits and new career opportunities with an employer or with another company in the field. It can also harm the victim’s mental and physical health, which not only impacts their career but spills into their personal life. In short, discrimination is the unfair treatment of an individual based on a characteristic they cannot change that has nothing to do with their ability to perform their job, such as their race, sex, or religion.
Gender and Maternal Discrimination
The study cited above found that physician mothers face two types of workplace discrimination: gender discrimination and maternal discrimination. Although the two have overlaps, they are not the same.
Gender discrimination is the act of discriminating against an individual because of their sex or gender. Examples of gender discrimination can include:
- Passing over an individual for advancement or hiring because of their gender
- Using gendered slurs with the individual in the workplace
- Expecting the individual to perform different tasks than employees in the same position of the opposite gender
- Paying an individual a different rate from others in the same position because of their gender
Maternal discrimination, also sometimes known as parental discrimination or pregnancy discrimination, is the act of discriminating against an individual because of their current status as a parent, their pregnancy, or their actual or assumed plan to become a parent while employed with the company. Examples of maternal discrimination include:
- Refusing to provide a space for breastfeeding mothers to pump at work
- Retaliating against an individual for taking the time off they are entitled to take under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to care for a newborn
- Asking an applicant about their family life and whether they intend to have children
- Passing over an individual for employment or advancement because of their status as a parent or potential to become a parent
Discrimination and Burnout
Burnout occurs when an individual is stressed or overworked to the point of physical or mental breakdown. Working as a physician tends to be more stressful than working in other professions. A 2014 study found that physicians report burnout at twice the rate of other professionals and among doctors, women have higher rates of burnout than men. Facing discrimination in the workplace is stressful, and when an individual feels they need to “prove themselves,” the stress can be overwhelming to the point of burnout.
Delaware County Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Represent Female Doctors Facing Discrimination in the Workplace
Workplace discrimination is not acceptable in any situation, whether you are a doctor, a teacher, a cashier, or in any other type of occupation. If you feel you have faced discrimination in your workplace, complete our online contact form or call 215-569-1999 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced Delaware County employment discrimination lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates P.C. Our office is located in Philadelphia and we work with clients from Pennsylvania and New Jersey.