Japan Data

Clear Gender Gap for Japan’s Doctors

Society Health Work

Female doctors are gradually increasing in number in Japan, but still only account for 21.9% of the total.

A 2018 survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare found that just 21.9% of Japan’s doctors are women, with a total of 71,758 compared with 255,452 men. The total for women increased by 6.3% since the last survey in 2016, whereas the number of men only rose by 1.4%.

Female doctors have been slowly on the increase since 1990, with a higher ratio in the younger generations. By age range at medical institutions (hospitals and clinics), the highest percentage were aged 29 or under (35.9%), followed by 30-39 years old (31.2%), 40-49 years old (26.3%), and 50-59 years old (16.6%).

An uneven distribution could also be seen in the number of women doctors across departments. At hospitals, the departments of dermatology, obstetrics and gynecology, mammary gland surgery, ophthalmology, and anesthesiology have a greater number of female patients and the work involves relatively few long hours and less irregular schedules.

Dermatology, in particular, has 54.8% women doctors; the one department in the survey where the ratio exceeded that of men. Other specialties with more than 40% women doctors were obstetrics and gynecology (44.5%), mammary gland surgery (44.1%), ophthalmology (42.4%), and anesthesiology (40.9%). In contrast, eight other departments had a ratio of less than 10% women doctors, including neurosurgery with 6.5%, cardiovascular surgery and orthopedic surgery both with 6.2%, and tracheoesophageal surgery with only 2.5%. This same bias could be seen in clinics too.

Women Doctors Working in Hospitals by Specialty

Medical specialty
Dermatology 54.8%
Obstetrics and gynecology 44.5%
Ophthalmology 42.4%
Anesthesiology 40.9%
Emergency 14.9%
Surgery 7.1%
Cardiovascular surgery 6.2%
Tracheoesophageal surgery 2.5%

Created by Nippon.com based on data from the 2018 Survey on Physicians, Dentists, and Pharmacists.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: ©foly/ PIXTA)

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