The feminisation of psychiatry: changing gender balance in the psychiatric workforce

  • Wilson S
  • Eagles J
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During the past 40 years, the proportion of women entering UK medical schools has risen from 20% to a figure predicted to remain stable at 60-65%. This change has been paralleled by increasing numbers of women in the psychiatric workforce. There is evidence that among medical students, females are better at rating psychopathology than males, although this may decrease after men are fully trained as psychiatrists. However, these data suggest that women have at least an initial advantage in the understanding of mental states. Females may have more positive attitudes to mental illness, psychiatry and psychiatric patients. Hence, women may pursue the specialty because they have innate abilities suited to psychiatry and they may well start with more positive attitudes. We consider the advantages of the increasing numbers of women in psychiatry to greatly outweigh the possible disadvantages. With a little reluctance, we as male authors accept the evidence that women, in terms of their abilities and attitudes, are collectively better predisposed to become psychiatrists than their male counterparts. The historical keenness of women to become psychiatrists should be fostered with further female-friendly policies and attitudes, but it will be important to factor gender differences into the equations underlying workforce planning. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)




Wilson, S., & Eagles, J. M. (2006). The feminisation of psychiatry: changing gender balance in the psychiatric workforce. Psychiatric Bulletin, 30(09), 321–323.

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