O HAI. I promise that I didn’t forget about this blog. I just got terribly, terribly busy with work and school and avoiding blogging.

From a story claming that it’s just fine to pay working mothers* less because they indeed work less than women** without children and leave their co-workers to pick up the slack***, we have an article from The Guardian with the headline, “Women doctors ‘less productive than males.'” I’m going to cruise right past the sex/gender disagreement in there and get straight to the point.

The article was linked in the line of text: “…but studies have shown female doctors are less productive than male doctors.” I had two thoughts about that claim before I read the article about the study:

1. I bet women spend more time with each patient than men do.

2. I wonder if the differences in specialty affect this calculation. For example, I would guess that more pediatricians are women, and more specialized surgeons are men. (This is an instinctive guess based on stories I’ve heard about how poorly women are treated during surgery training and some conversations I’ve had with a guy who is studying to be a heart surgeon [he said surgeons have to be arrogant assholes with god complexes to believe that they can do what they do, and society encourages more men to be assholes than women]. I could totally and completely be wrong about this and please correct me if in fact women are encouraged to go into surgery or other specializations – I would love to hear that!)

And now that I’m reading the article, both of my points are raised. Go me!

However the lead author of the report, Karen Bloor, from the University of York, said that the NHS Health Episodes Statistics (HES) used in the study did not measure every aspect of consultants’ work.

“It does not quantify information about teaching and administration where women may be more heavily involved.

“Or the difference might reflect female consultants taking more time with individual patients.”

Another point mentioned in the article, which leads back to previous topic, talks about the shorter hours that women who are doctors put in at the office, often because they are, you guessed it, “working mothers.”

But what this study suggests is that even for doctors, productivity = number of patients treated. As an illustration, PersonalFailure posted a story today about her recent visit to a doctor who offered consultations to another doctor and a nurse during her appointment. I cannot be sure if this is a gendered trend, but in my experience, I have never seen an appointment interrupted with my GPs (all women), but when my husband saw an orthopedist (a man) for an injury in college, his five-minute consultation was interrupted twice by nurses.

Are the joint doctor and the orthopedist better doctors because they are “more productive” than my GPs? I don’t think so. I would so much rather a doctor be totally focused on my care, or at least pretend to be. Is this because men are socialized to be more detached from the business at hand and women are expected to be caring and thoughtful? I have no idea. But I sure as heck don’t want to visit a doctor who labels hirself “most productive” if it means that I don’t deserve the dignity of the doctor’s full attention.

*And where are the “working fathers”? Why is stay-at-home mom not considered “working”? The greater financial contribution to the household isn’t necessarily an indicator of who performs more “work”.

**I haven’t seen any productivity studies comparing fathers to non-fathers or mothers to fathers or mothers to non-fathers or fathers to non-mothers. Why is anyone comparing these things anyway?

***Either a workplace accommodates individuals and their circumstances or they tell a worker that not enough work is getting done. There’s no excuse for tossing a parent out on hir ear without warning or for shifting the workload to other staff members. If that happens, it’s a management problem, not a parenting problem.

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