Head of doctors’ association under fire over comments on female physicians

Milan Kubek, photo: CTK

Many in the Czech medical profession were unpleasantly surprised by recent comments by the head of the Czech doctors’ association Milan Kubek. Speaking before a parliamentary committee on problems in health care, the head of the association, suggested that work done by female doctors was incomparable to that done by their male counterparts. His words have since led to growing criticism and calls for him to step down.

Milan Kubek, photo: CTK
If Milan Kubek has any regrets in his choice of words regarding women in the medical profession, he isn’t showing it, at least, not yet. Until now he appears to have stood by an assertion that their work commitment in the medical profession was incomparable to men’s – given women also often have to take care of children at home. Mr Kubek made the assertion in a recent presentation before the health committee in the Chamber of Deputies, pointing to the growing feminisation in health care as a serious problem. Almost 53 percent of the country’s doctors are women, many of whom were angered by Mr Kubek’s words. Here’s what he told the lower house’s health committee on February 25:

“Women’s assignments, because they have two roles, one in the workplace and one at home taking care of the children, can understandably never be compared to those of men.”

Mladá fronta Dnes ran a front-page story on the presentation, as well as the reaction, including calls for the Mr Kubek to give up his post. But the story also drew quick protest: the Czech doctors’ association, under its vice president, said that the paper had distorted the facts, arguing Mr Kubek did not say that female doctors were “worse” than their male counterparts at all. For some perspective, I spoke to Czech-American physician Martin Jan Stránský:

“On the one hand, I think I know what he wanted to say: simply that the activity of female physicians was influenced by additional factors, such as raising children and that’s fine and natural. But unfortunately what he said came out to mean that their work capacity - even that as physicians - was inadequate compared to male doctors. And that of course is a tragic statement. At the end of the day, in any balanced country the head of such an association would be forced to resign unless he issued a retraction.”

Another in the medical profession taken aback by Mr Kubek’s comments was Civic Democrat MP Dagmar Molendová, present at Mr Kubek’s speech:

“When he said that female doctors were also mothers and couldn’t do the same amount of work, I felt wronged. I am both. For 20 years I worked in the field and I think I did a similar number of shifts to my male colleagues. In this case I think that the head of the doctors’ association went a little too far.”

Clearly Mr Kubek himself doesn’t think so - otherwise he might have issued an apology by now. His apparent refusal to do so, has shocked some in the medical profession even more.