Female physicians: Trends and likely impacts on healthcare in Israel

Ziona Haklai, Yael Applbaum, Orna Tal, Myriam Aburbeh, Nehama F. Goldberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Female physicians have become an increasing proportion of the medical workforce in Israel. This study investigates this trend and discusses its likely impact on the quantity and quality of medical care available. Method: Data on licensed physicians and new licenses issued to physicians were taken from a Ministry of Health database, and analyzed by gender, age, academic origin (Israeli graduates, immigrants, Israeli-born who studied abroad), and specialty for the years 1999-2011.Data on employed physicians, their population group, and work hours were taken from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) annual Labour Force Survey for the years 2009-2011. Results: The proportion of women amongst physicians aged under 65 rose from 38% in 1999 to 42% in 2011, and was even higher for younger physicians. The highest proportion of females is found amongst new immigrant physicians who studied abroad. The corresponding proportion has been rising steadily amongst Israeli-educated physicians, and is lowest amongst Israeli-born physicians who studied abroad. Similarly, among newly licensed physicians, the proportion of females has traditionally been highest among immigrants who studied abroad and lowest among Israeli-born graduates who studied abroad. Among newly-licensed physicians who studied in Israel, the proportion of females has historically been intermediate between the other two groups, but it has recently risen to 54% and now parallels the proportion of females among immigrants who studied abroad. In recent years, the mix of academic origins among newly licensed physicians has changed dramatically, with important implications for the proportion of women among newly licensed physicians. The highest percentage of females was found in family medicine followed by oncology, pediatrics and psychiatry. The greatest increase over the years in this percentage was for gynecology and internal medicine. Female physicians worked shorter hours than males, particularly at younger ages. The proportion of females among employed Arab physicians is much lower than among Jewish physicians. Conclusions: The proportion of female physicians has been steadily rising, although in recent years the increase has leveled off. This has been due, in part, to the decline in the flow of immigrant physicians and the increase in the number of Israelis studying abroad. Future developments in medical education options and immigration will determine whether their proportion will continue rising. Planning for future medical personnel must take these results into consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number37
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 17 Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2013 Haklai et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


  • Female physicians
  • Female specialties
  • Medical work hours
  • Medical workforce


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