International Women’s Day 2019- Let’s Change the Rules for doctors


Today is International Women’s Day, a day to reflect on how far we have come and how far we have to go to achieve gender equality.

ASMOF is proud of the fantastic female leaders we count as members, who are committed and vocal advocates for both their patients and their peers in medicine.

Whilst improvements have been made slowly over the past decades, the medical profession has at times fallen behind modern expectations, including that doctors should be able to balance family commitments with their medical practice. This is reflected in many of the comments made by doctors our recent survey, which suggest that medicine is lagging behind:

‘I think there needs to be a real culture shift and although there has been some improvement in the last 20 years, there is a long way to go.’

‘Medicine can still be very archaic. …programs that punish people for pregnancy or child-care duties are bad for men AND women.’

‘The health service seems to be doing absolutely nothing to address this imbalance - unlike most industries across the world.’

‘There is a lot of gender-based discrimination going on in departments…There seems to be a prevalent view that women with families who work part-time are not contributing enough.‘

‘there are some hospitals that have NEVER in their history, hired a female candidate.’

When we asked our members whether believed their employer promoted gender equity, over half answered ‘no’ (57%). This figure jumped to 74% for female respondents:


There are a wide a range of improvements employers can make to promote gender equity. Let’s Change the Rules for working women.

Flexible work & training

The ACTU have noted that Australia is one of the most unequal countries in the world in regards to to men’s and women’s sharing of unpaid domestic and care work. Flexible work arrangements are unavailable for many doctors, but doctors tell us that such arrangements are desperately needed.

MegaphoneChange the Rules calls for the right for all employees to receive – not merely request – family friendly working hours.


Leave entitlements

Another concern identified by doctors is access to parental leave, with respondents keen to ensure that men were also able share parenting duties with their partner.

As one member has said:

‘Both my wife and I are doctors, but my career is built around the assumption that it will be my wife that takes time off. I can't access more than a few weeks of paid paternity leave - what if it was me that wanted to be primary caregiver? Why should only my wife be able to take leave? Surely, at the very least we could split the entitlement.’

MegaphoneChange the Rules calls for the abolition of “primary” and “secondary” parental leave, to be replaced by 26 weeks’ leave that a family can use however they want.


Pay Gap

Australian research from Level Medicine has highlighted that, when controlling for hours worked, the annual gross personal earnings for female specialists was on average 16.6% less than their male counterparts. Some of the proposed explanations for this gap include that the relative recent entry of women into medical professions sees females concentrated in more junior positions and underrepresented at more senior levels, and that women differ with regards the frequency of career interruptions in order to care for families or take other caring roles

MegaphoneChange the Rules calls for the establishment of an expert Pay Equity Panel within the Fair Work Commission.

Change the Rules calls for the payment of superannuation on every dollar that women earn, including on paid parental leave.

Get involved

ASMOF has received a great response to our call out to develop NSW Women’s Working Group and is currently putting together our Terms of Reference. If you are interested in participating or have thoughts for what should be included in our ToR, get in touch with Catherine Ryan, Industrial Officer, at