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June 23, 2022

Starting a Career in Oncology: Fighting Cancer and Gender Disparities

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison
  • 2Division of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. 2022;8(9):1251-1252. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.1775

Identical degrees do not always lead to equal opportunity. I grew up as a child of 2 attorneys who graduated at the same time from the same law school, but only 1 faced gender bias throughout her career. In addition to encountering sexism and harassment while practicing law full-time, my mother was expected to care for me, my brother, and our home. Even with a supportive spouse, these obligations certainly influenced her career choices. My childhood’s household division-of-labor was not unique, and the field of medicine is not immune. A 2019 study reported that within just 6 years of completing medical training, women physicians are substantially more likely to report cutting back on their hours and cite family responsibilities as the major factor behind this career decision.1 This gap in work hours so early in a career may propagate further gender inequities, such as salary and future promotions.

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