Women, general practice, and gender roles


  • Hilary Tsui Simon Fraser University


Since 1988, Canadian women have, year after year, outnumbered men in general (family) practice (CAPER, 1989; CAPER, 2018). While factors such as family medicine having more standard working hours (Michas, 2022) and requiring less rigorous training (Boulis & Jacobs, 2008) may be part of their decision to become family physicians, the main reason for women to be constantly choosing family practice is heavily influenced by societal expectations of care. Women are believed to be naturally motherly, which causes society to direct women towards more care-oriented careers such as family medicine or nursing instead of more “uncaring” fields such as specialty medicine. There are many parallels between women’s expectations and the role of family physicians: women are expected to know how to care for others longitudinally and holistically, be more empathetic towards others, and have a wide range of knowledge; family physicians look after their patients over many years, have strong relationships with their patients, and are seen as the first point of contact for medicine-related questions or concerns.

Keywords: gender roles, stereotypes, women, general practice, society