Muhammad Arif


Background: The last few decades have witnessed increased entry of women in the medical workforce both in High and Low income countries. This increased female participation in medicine is often called as ‘feminisation of medicine’. There is not much research available on medical workforce feminisation and its potential consequences in resource constrained countries. This paper analyses Pakistani physicians’ perceptions regarding feminisation of medical workforce and its implications for human resources for health policies and practice in Pakistan.

Materials & Methods: A phenomenological research design was used to conduct thirteen semi-structured telephone interviews with Pakistani physicians to explore their perceptions regarding feminisation of medical workforce and its implications. Both purposive and snow-ball sampling techniques was used. Data analysis was done by using thematic analysis technique.

Results: The main reasons for feminisation are open-merit policy for admission in medical schools, to get good matches and medicine as an acceptable profession for females. There was a difference of perceptions about medical workforce feminisation on the accessibility of medical services in Pakistan. Majority did not agree that more female doctors will increase Pakistani women’s accessibility to doctors, especially in rural areas. This may not happen unless the feminised medical workforce is properly managed and incentivised.

Conclusion: The volume of female doctors in Pakistan is gradually increasing which have important implications for policy and practice of medicine. Research is needed to understand these reasons and to know Pakistan health system’s ability to meet the needs and requirements of females as the main healthcare providers.


Feminisation; Medicine; Female Doctors/ physicians; Pakistan.

Full Text:



Mohamed NA, Abdulhadi NN, Al-Maniri AA, Al-Lawati NR, Al-Qasmi AM. The trend of feminization of doctor's workforce in Oman: is it a phenomenon that could rouse the health system? Hum Resour Health.2018;16:19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-018-0283-y

Knaul FM, Arreola-Ornelas H, Essue BM, Nargund RS, Garcia P, Gomez UA et al. The feminization of medicine in Latin America: 'More the-merrier' will not beget gender equity or strengthen health systems. Lancet. 2022;141(6):471-4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lana.2022.100201

Hedden L, Barer ML, Cardiff K, McGrail KM, Law MR, Bourgeault IL. The implications of the feminization of the primary care physician workforce on service supply: a systematic review. Hum Resour Health. 2014;12:32. https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-12-32

Laurence D, Görlich Y, Simmenroth A. How do applicants, students and physicians think about the feminisation of medicine? - a questionnaire-survey. BMC Med Educ.2020; 20:48. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-020-1959-2

Haklai Z, Applbaum Y, Tal O, Aburbeh M, Goldberger NF. Female physicians: trends and likely impacts on healthcare in Israel. Isr J Health Policy Res. 2013; 2:37. https://doi.org/10.1186/2045-4015-2-37

Cohen M, Kiran T. Closing the gender pay gap in Canadian medicine. CMAJ. 2020; 192:E1011-7. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.200375

Pas B, Peters P, Doorewaard H, Eisinga R, Lagro-Janssen T. Feminisation of the medical profession: a strategic HRM dilemma? The effects of family-friendly HR practices on female doctors' contracted working hours. Hum ResourManag J. 2011; 21:285-302. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-8583.2010.00161.x

Akazawa S, Fujimoto Y, Sawada M, Kanda T, Nakahashi T. Women physicians in academic medicine of Japan. JMA J. 2022;5(3):289-297. https://doi.org/10.31662/jmaj.2021-0116

Abuzeyad FH, Al Qasem L, Bashmi L, Arekat M, Al Qassim G, Alansari A et al. Women's contribution to medicine in Bahrain: leadership and workforce. Hum Resour Health. 2022;20:67. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-022-00762-9

Mahr MA, Hayes SN, Shanafelt TD, Sloan JA, Erie JC. Gender differences in physician service provision using medicare claims data. Mayo Clin Proc. 2017;92(6):870-880. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.02.017

Serneels P, Montalvo JG, Pettersson G, Lievens T, Butera JD, Kidanu A. Who wants to work in a rural health post? The role of intrinsic motivation, rural background and faith-based institutions in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Bull World Health Organ. 2010;88(5):342-9. https://doi.org/10.2471/BLT.09.072728

Watts CE. The Feminisation of the Medical Profession in England: Implications and Responses [Doctoral thesis]. Manchester: University of Manchester; 2018. Available from https://pure.manchester.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/102604566/FULL_TEXT.PDF

Steiner-Hofbauer V, Katz HW, Grundnig JS, Holzinger A. Female participation or "feminization" of medicine. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2023;173(5-6):125-130. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10354-022-00961-y

Montañez-Hernández JC, Alcalde-Rabanal JE, Nigenda-López GH, Aristizábal-Hoyos GP, Dini L. Gender inequality in the health workforce in the midst of achieving universal health coverage in Mexico. Hum Resour Health. 2020;18:40. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-020-00481-z

Russo G, Goncalves L, Craveiro I, Dussault G. Feminization of the medical workforce in low-income settings; findings from surveys in three African capital cities. Hum Resour Health. 2015;13:64. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-015-0064-9

Moazam F, Shekhani S. Why women go to medical college but fail to practise medicine: perspectives from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Med Educ. 2018; 52:705-715. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.13545

Tahir S, Bashir A, Rafique A, Khan JS. The barriers which prevent the female dentists from pursuing their career in Pakistani culture. Pak Oral Dent J. 2017; 37(3):477-482.

Arif M. To Remain, Migrate Abroad or Resettle: An exploratory Study of Pakistani Physicians' Career Decisions [Doctoral thesis]. Armidale (NSW): University of New England; 2011. Available from https://epublications.une.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/une:7328

Arif M, Cruickshank M, Fraser J. To remain, migrate abroad or resettle: a complex dynamic process affecting Pakistani physicians' career decisions. Asia Pac. J. Health Manag. 2019;14(3). https://doi.org/10.24083/apjhm.v14i3.321

Mohsin M, Syed J. The missing doctors - an analysis of educated women and female domesticity in Pakistan. Gender Work Organ. 2020;27:1077-1102. https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12444

Ansari M. Postgraduate medical training in Pakistan. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2008;18(1):1-2

Biggs J. Postgraduate medical training in Pakistan: observations and recommendations. J Coll Physicians Surg Pak. 2008;18(1):58-63

Shaikh MA, Ikram S, Zaheer R. Influences on medical career choice and future medical practice plans among women: perspective from final year students and house officers. J Pak Med Assoc. 2018;68(2):272-275

Mehmood N. Women in medicine: the future. J Rawal Medical Coll. 2017;21(2):106-108

Talati J, Pappas G. Migration, medical education, and health care: a view from Pakistan. Acad Med. 2006;8(12):55-62. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.ACM.0000243543.99794.07

Baig LA. Women empowerment or feminism: facts and myths about feminization of medical education. Pak J Med Sci. 2020;36(3):303-305. https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.36.3.2396

Chaudhury N, Hammer JS. Ghost doctors: absenteeism in rural Bangladeshi health facilities. World Bank Econ Rev. 2004;18(3):423-441. https://doi.org/10.1093/wber/lhh047

Ahmed SM, Hossain MA, Chowdhury AMR, Bhuiya AU. The health workforce crisis in Bangladesh: shortage, inappropriate skill-mix and inequitable distribution. Hum Resour Health. 2011; 9:3. https://doi.org/10.1186/1478-4491-9-3

Rawal LB, Joarder T, Islam SMS, Uddin A, Ahmed SM. Developing effective policy strategies to retain health workers in rural Bangladesh: a policy analysis. Hum Resour Health. 2015;13:36. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12960-015-0030-6

Rao M, Rao KD, Kumar AKS, Chatterjee M, Sundararaman T. Human resources for health in India. Lancet. 2011;377:587-598. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61888-0

DOI: https://doi.org/10.46903/gjms/21.03.1338


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023. Muhammad Arif

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Gomal Medical College, Daraban Road, Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistan

ISSN: 1819-7973, e-ISSN: 1997-2067

Website: https://www.gmcdikhan.edu.pk

Phone: +92-966-747373

Scimago Journal & Country Rank