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January 1991

Women in Medicine: Fantasies, Dreams, Myths, and Realities

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(1):49-52. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160010053015

When little girls and young women discuss their thoughts about medical careers, listeners often consider the thoughts to be fantasies. The same thoughts of little boys and young men are considered to be dreams. The difference in reactions to illusions or capricious images (fantasies) vs conceived possibilities or probabilities (dreams) has stymied the budding careers of many women. These reactions, added to the myths regarding women and men, threaten the future of the medical profession in the United States. I hope to convince you of this by reviewing the current status of women in medicine and proposing alternatives to alleviate the problem.

The gender gap in pay and occupations has narrowed during three periods of American history: the industrial revolution (1820 to 1850), the period from 1900 to 1930 in which there was a dramatic increase in white collar jobs, and now.1 The current trend involves women entering higher-paying

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