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Male gynecologists lament 50 percent drop in men in the industry

The rate of male gynecologists has dropped 30 percent since 1970, according to a newly-published statistic sparking controversy in the industry.

While 93 percent of OB/GYNs were men five decades ago, that figure has now slipped to 41 percent, and the vast majority of gynecology students that will staff the next generation are female (82 percent).

In a controversial article by the Los Angeles Times this week, a group of male gynecologists lamented the shift and described feeling forlorn as their patients routinely request to see a woman instead.

Some told the paper they fear men will eventually be driven out of gynecology altogether – insisting it would be a travesty to cut men out of women’s care.

However, scores of gynecologists – including the incoming president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) – have hit back at the comments, insisting ‘Time’s Up’ for women being a minority in healthcare.

While 93 percent of OB/GYNs were men five decades ago, that figure has now slipped to 41 percent, and just 18 percent of today’s gynecology students are male

‘Medicine has made progress in increasing gender parity, but the fact remains that there continues to be nearly double the number of male physicians as there are female physicians across the country,’ ACOG president-elect Lisa Hollier said. 

‘[W]e should not equate a shift in demographics with oppression or discrimination,’ she added.’

In medicine, there are twice the amount of men than women, according to recent statistics from the Henry J Kasier Family Foundation.

In gynecology, that’s not the case; these days it’s closer to half-and-half, and by 2025, women are expected to make up two thirds of the profession. 

It fits patient demand: 50.2 percent of women prefer to see a female gynecologist, according to a 2016 Stanford study. While 41 percent have no preference, 8.3 percent preferred a man. 

Some of the men who spoke to the LA Times warned they fear eclipsing men out of the field could be detrimental for patients.

‘It needs to be something all of society cares about,’ Daniel Spinosa, a former Wall Street businessman who is now a UCSD medical student, told the Times. 

While many, including Dr Hollier, promote a positive view on this push for more women, some say this whole gender debate is somewhat crass. 

Dr Jen Gunter, the gynecologist famed for fact-busting Gwyneth Paltrow’s health tips on Goop, said: ’55 [percent] of pediatric residents in 1990 were women and currently 75 [percent] of pediatric residents are women yet I have never once heard any pediatrician talk about how that might prevent us from the next big breakthrough in pediatrics. Then again those fields tend to pay less than OB/GYN.’

While both are comfortable salaries, pediatricians earn around $205,000, and obstetricians-gynecologists earn an average of about $310,000 a year.

Dr Gunter added: ‘I have not read any think pieces on how the dearth of women in the areas of medicine that are still male dominated, such as neurosurgery, affects advances. No one there seems to worry that the lack of woman brain hampers much of anything.’

Dr Alison Jacoby, an OB-GYN who works in transgender health, said a vague push to get more women in the industry places too much emphasis on female gynecologists’ gender, rather than their skills.

‘I’ve never had kids, so what do I know about the pain of childbirth?’ she told the Times. ‘It has everything to do with communication and empathy, and less on the gender of the provider.’