President's Blog - August 2013
The never ending sunshine has no doubt left all members feeling not only cheered, but also vitamin D enriched. August is a relatively quiet time for MWF, but Anji and Fran have been beavering away in the office.
Between travels to France, Edinburgh and Sicily, I had the privilege to meet a delegation of Japanese academics, visiting
London for their research on comparing women health professionals in Japan and the UK. Yoko Watanabe, the aptly named Prof of Lifelong Education, led the group of five women who all spoke very good English. I gave a presentation about MWF and we exchanged stories of women doctors' careers. In Japan approximately 20% of consultants are female, but medical students are now 30% female. Women doctors seem to divide into two groups, those who work full time and replicate men, and those who resign and look after their families. There appears to be no middle ground, and no role models who combine career and family. This traditional approach was also evident in women's health: contraception is not widely available for the unmarried and is not free; sex education is not taught in schools and is frowned on by politicians; abortion is legal but mostly private and not easily accessible to unmarried women.
Yoko did not know of any female doctor with more than two children, as was amazed to hear of several of our members with four children. They were all fascinated by the careers of UK women doctors and thrilled to be given copies of Dorothy Ward's history of MWIA, Medical Woman and other MWF leaflets. Let's hope that some MWF culture spreads to Japan and that the Japanese MWIA can inspire the country's younger women doctors.