Male and Female Emirati Medical Clerks’ Perceptions of the Impact of Gender and Mobility on Their Professional Careers
“Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence; …to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.”
1.1. Study Context
1.2. The Study in Context
1.3. UAE Patient and Physician Profile
1.4. Research Framework and Questions
- To what extent do female and male medical students perceive a gender-dominated practice of medicine in the UAE?
- To what extent do they perceive this will affect how they will practice medicine following graduation?
- What advantages and disadvantages do they associate with their gender in the practice of medicine in the UAE?
2.2. The Researchers
2.3. Interviews and Analysis
3.1. The Practice of Medicine in the UAE: Male- or Female-Dominated?
“We are seeing many females, even local females everywhere in every hospital. We are seeing residents, specialists even consultants. Except maybe in Surgery, I can say there is a lack of female surgeons but other specialties they are there, I think” [Female 3]
“According to the specialty. For example in Obs & Gynae, there are females more, but in Surgery, there is a limit of females, more males. And it’s becoming, for residents in Internal Medicine, there is becoming more female residents” [Female 13]
“I saw a lot of males [in Surgery] and some of them were like dominating. So, it was a problem and I didn’t know how to deal with that. But, with time and what they saw with me, like a hard-working student and enthusiastic, they tried to give me support” [Female 1]
“The Pediatrics ward is ... again ... It’s a funny ward where you rarely see a male resident. I came across only two male residents while all the rest were females. Usually, you see women gathering in the Pediatrics ward, sitting in the room, chit-chatting. So for a male in our culture, you can imagine a male invading a women’s environment! It’s like they are sitting with their children and it’s like a cultural, I mean, like home” [Male 8]
3.2. Implications of a Changing Physician Gender Profile
3.2.1. As Interns
“I know for example a student doing training at the hospital, elective and so on, and my supervisor was a male and I had not difficulty. I can conduct with them easily and they can help me. So, I don’t see any difference between the male and female supervisor” [Female 15]
“I have many experiences with female residents. They were really helping me as a student. Enthusiastic and dedicated to teach me” [Male 7]
“I feel more comfortable with female doctors. I learn from them a lot, more than from males” [Female 4]
“For female practitioners, the problem is the attitude of the female doctors. Sometimes it is hostile. I think the male-female relationship is more professional, more, uh…clean” [Female 14]
3.2.2. Beyond Internship
“The main obstacle I face is the she [the female] will not want to be on call on the week-ends. She will get pregnant if she is married. After pregnancy, delivery, she will take lots of holidays and the work will not move (laughs). This was also for Canada. The females refused to do on-calls so the males had to do. The males also have families and the children want their father to come home, but he has the weekends on call. Many weekends” [Male 2]
3.3. Career Intentions and Medical Practice in the UAE: Gender and Mobility
3.3.1. Restrictions on Women
“As a female, the first obstacle…I wanted to go abroad to finish my medical school but my family didn’t agree” [Female 14]
“My family will not accept it that much. My father is supportive and he wants me to go abroad but they still think if a girl wants abroad then she will not get a chance to get married” [Female 8]
“I remember one thing. Maybe in the external elective. Because, uh, I am female and my relatives cannot go with me far away for a long period, for example, to Canada or the US, that’s why this make me choose another country [Malaysia, also largely Muslim]. I went with my family but we, uh, we stayed there around two weeks only” [Female 7]
“For the elective, I get acceptance from Singapore and Malta. My family wouldn’t allow me to go alone, so one of them was going to accompany me. I wanted to do it. I wanted to go alone to see, to experience the situation, more than just go to a specific place. Um, then we had another option to go to Saudi Arabia and my family accepted for me to go with some of my colleagues so I went there as I wanted to go alone [without a male chaperone]” [Female 10].
“But maybe this depends on person, personality and stuff, but for example for me, I think it will be difficult to go abroad alone and do my residency. I should have one of my family with me. But for a man, he can manage himself anywhere. Because of my personality I need that person. But because some female students could manage going abroad alone without anybody…It is not a common thing, for a female to go abroad, but it does happen, not usually” [Female 3].
“Our families encourage us [to go abroad]. For females, the families somehow will not encourage. Males will usually sub-specialize. A female will never sub-specialize unless she stays long years outside. All local males or most of them, they sub-specialize in very important sub-specialties but females more general…Males will be less but they will be given more responsibility. In the hospitals, the leadership will be males…more highly qualified…salaries depend on rank…Males will be qualified by international boards. Females will have Arab Board. Not the same qualification” [Male 2]
3.3.2. Gendered Roles and Responsibilities
“Second thing. Children. I think medicine is hard work, it takes a lot of time and it’s very difficult I think in imagination [i.e., in my mind] to balance between the home and the work. Very difficult” [Female 4]
“For example, if she wants to be an ICU doctor, Cardiology, Surgery. Some specialties have many on-calls and might interfere with her social [family] life. So, as I can see, many of them will chose the uh, specialties so that they can have more social life [i.e., wife and/or mother]” [Male 4]
“Because they think, for example, I am married, I have a baby, so I think they will think I will not be, uh, as dedicated for my job as a male, which is wrong” [Female 14]
“There are many advantages [to being a male]. Having on calls, it will be much easier for a male to do it. For females, it will depend on the location. But, mainly it’s, uh being a male on the on-calls and the long working hours. If there are females who are having housework to do, it might be some problem. But for male, the timing is advantage. I can stay for long hours for on calls as well as maybe tough work, stress, stress-related and in, uh, musculo-skeletal [physical] effort” [Male 1]
“We are also concerning about females to enlarge [increase in number]. In our societies, in our families, ladies first sometimes. If there is a work, or something troubling or something, we are focusing—do not make our females so tired. So, now for me, when I saw this girl working the whole night, it’s like, it’s tiring for us, so what about them? It’s a bit difficult” [Male 6]
“For us, male doctors, we should have more roles taking the specialties that…there are sub-specialties that fit us more than females. I don’t know, could be Surgery or Cardiology. The specialties that have more on-call duties because all females decided to stay in the country and do the specialties like Dermatology. That’s OK, but for us, we have to take the action and get the specialties that our country needs” [Male 4]
“If I get married, for example, if he will agree to stay with me [where she does her residency] or will he keep me in Ras Al Khaimah [an emirate]? This is bad! The females here in our culture should follow her husband, not the opposite. In rare cases, you find the husband will follow” [Female 4].
“If one is married, the husband may not be happy with you having many on-calls…So, some of the females who are married are getting into Family Medicine because Family Medicine has no [on call] duties. Maybe that will affect them more. Maybe she didn’t want to do Family Medicine but because there is no duties, she will go to Family Medicine” [Female 11]
“I think if they get married, they could have a few difficulties, unless the husband is open-minded and willing to help” [Male 7]
3.3.3. Gender Differences in Physical Strength
“The difficulty that I encounter with myself. Sometimes when I encounter a male patient for examination. Sometimes it is difficult, not because he is male and I am a female. Maybe this problem also applies to females (laughs) when they are overweight. Sometimes I cannot examine them. I find it difficult (laughs)” [Female 1]
“Maybe because it is difficult for females to practice Surgery. Because most of the time, the surgeons in the hospital are on call and the surgery may last more than five hours and she has to stand…” [Female 3]
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McLean, M.; Higgins-Opitz, S.B. Male and Female Emirati Medical Clerks’ Perceptions of the Impact of Gender and Mobility on Their Professional Careers. Soc. Sci. 2017, 6, 109. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6030109
McLean M, Higgins-Opitz SB. Male and Female Emirati Medical Clerks’ Perceptions of the Impact of Gender and Mobility on Their Professional Careers. Social Sciences. 2017; 6(3):109. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6030109Chicago/Turabian Style
McLean, Michelle, and Susan B. Higgins-Opitz. 2017. "Male and Female Emirati Medical Clerks’ Perceptions of the Impact of Gender and Mobility on Their Professional Careers" Social Sciences 6, no. 3: 109. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci6030109