Difficulties Facing Physician Mothers in Japan




    • YAMAZAKI Yuka
    • Department of Public Health, Juntendo University School of Medicine
    • KOZONO Yuki
    • Department of Public Health, Juntendo University School of Medicine
    • MORI Ryo
    • Department of Rehabilitation, Shintotsuka Hospital
    • MARUI Eiji
    • Department of Public Health, Juntendo University School of Medicine


Despite recent increases in the number of female physicians graduating in Japan, their premature resignations after childbirth are contributing to the acute shortage of physicians. Previous Japanese studies have explored supportive measures in the workplace, but have rarely focused on the specific problems or concerns of physician-mothers. Therefore, this study explored the challenges facing Japanese physician-mothers in efforts to identify solutions for their retention. Open-ended questionnaires were mailed to 646 alumnae of Juntendo University School of Medicine. We asked subjects to describe their opinions about ‘The challenges related to female physicians' resignations’. Comments gathered from alumnae who graduated between 6 and 30 years ago and have children were analyzed qualitatively. Overall, 249 physicians returned the questionnaire (response rate 38.5%), and 73 alumnae with children who graduated in the stated time period provided comments. The challenges facing physician-mothers mainly consisted of factors associated with Japanese society, family responsibilities, and work environment. Japanese society epitomized by traditional gender roles heightened stress related to family responsibilities and promoted gender discrimination at work environment. Additionally, changing Japanese society positively influenced working atmosphere and husband's support. Moreover, the introduction of educational curriculums that alleviated traditional gender role was proposed for pre- and post- medical students. Traditional gender roles encourage discrimination by male physicians or work-family conflicts. The problems facing female physicians involve more than just family responsibilities: diminishing the notion of gender role is key to helping retain them in the workforce.


  • Tohoku journal of experimental medicine

    Tohoku journal of experimental medicine 225(3), 203-209, 2011-11-01


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