Majority of Britons still think of doctors as men, gender bias study finds

More than half of Brits would assume that a nurse is female

Olivia Petter
Thursday 31 January 2019 12:42 GMT
Shondaland/ABC Studios
Shondaland/ABC Studios

Gender bias remains rife when it comes to careers, new research has found, with just five per cent of Brits assuming a doctor is a woman when they hear the job title.

The study of 4,000 adults commissioned by LinkedIn found that people are more likely to perceive traditional jobs, such as builders, teachers and nurses, as gendered, whereas contemporary roles (e.g. social media manager) are more ambiguous.

For example, 63 per cent of those surveyed said they would assume that a nurse is female while 77 per cent did not associate any gender with the job title “SEO specialist”.

But titles including model, nursery teacher and receptionist were all largely perceived as female.

Likewise, plumber, electrician, farmer, taxi driver and engineer were all perceived as male jobs by the majority of survey participants.

The research also singled out some industries that were associated with a particular gender, with 42 per cent of respondents assuming that IT and telecoms is a male-dominated field while almost a quarter (23 per cent) described the arts and culture sector as a mostly female field.

The most “male” sector was identified as architecture, engineering and building, while for women it was hospitality and healthcare.

Dr Natasha Larmie, who is a GP in an NHS surgery in Hertfordshire, said that the findings are unsurprising given how accustomed she has become to people assuming her gender based on her job title.

“I’ve often had people assume that I am a man when I go by my professional title,” she commented.

“It’s frustrating that so many of us still have these ingrained assumptions at a time when there are actually a large number of female doctors working in the UK.

“That being said, women are still not well represented at the top of our profession, which may explain why people assume that most doctors are men."

Larmie added that the only way to combat unconscious gender associations such as these is to acknowledge and discuss them.

Sarah Seymour, a spokesperson at LinkedIn, said making assumptions about people based on their job is something we’re all guilty of.

“We hope that by raising awareness of the gendered assumptions we unconsciously hold, we can help our LinkedIn community discuss their experiences and ensure nothing gets in the way of advancing their career and finding the perfect role for them.”

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