Original articles

Changing gender profile of medical schools in South Africa

Mignonne Breier, Angelique Wildschut


Higher education policy since 1994 is committed to equity of access for all irrespective of race and gender.
We investigated progress towards these goals in the education of medical doctors, with an emphasis on gender.
Databases from the Department of Education (DoE), Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and University of Cape Town (UCT) Faculty of Health Sciences were used to explore undergraduate (MBChB) trends at all eight medical schools and postgraduate (MMed ) trends at the University of Cape Town (UCT).
Nationally women have outnumbered men at MBChB enrolments since 2000, reaching between 52% and 63% of at seven of the eight medical schools in 2005. However, the rate of change in the medical profession will take more than two decades for female doctors to outnumber male doctors. A study of UCT postgraduate enrolments shows females have increased to 42% of MMEd enrolments in 2005. However, female postgraduate students were concentrated in disciplines such as paediatrics and psychiatry and comprised no more than 11 % of enrolments in the surgical disciplines.
The study provides a basic quantitative overview of the changing profile of medical enrolments and raises questions about the career choices of women after graduating and the social factors influencing these choices.

Authors' affiliations

Mignonne Breier, Human Sciences Research Council

Angelique Wildschut, HSRC

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Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2008;98(7):557.

Article History

Date submitted: 2007-10-19
Date published: 2008-07-09

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