Exploring gender differences in uptake of GP partnership roles: a qualitative mixed-methods study

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BACKGROUND: The unadjusted gender pay gap in general practice is reported to be 33.5%. This reflects partly the differential rate at which women become partners, but evidence exploring gender differences in GPs' career progression is sparse.

AIM: To explore factors affecting uptake of partnership roles, focusing particularly on gender differences.

DESIGN AND SETTING: Convergent mixed-methods research design using data from UK GPs.

METHOD: Secondary analysis of qualitative interviews and social media analysis of UK GPs' Twitter commentaries, which informed the conduct of asynchronous online focus groups. Findings were combined using methodological triangulation.

RESULTS: The sample comprised 40 GP interviews, 232 GPs tweeting about GP partnership roles, and seven focus groups with 50 GPs. Factors at individual, organisational, and national levels influence partnership uptake and career decisions of both men and women GPs. Desire for work-family balance (particularly childcare responsibilities) presented the greatest barrier, for both men and women, as well as workload, responsibility, financial investment, and risk. Greater challenges were, however, reported by women, particularly regarding balancing work-family lives, as well as prohibitive working conditions (including maternity and sickness pay) and discriminatory practices perceived to favour men and full-time GPs.

CONCLUSION: There are some long-standing gendered barriers that continue to affect the career decisions of women GPs. The relative attractiveness of salaried, locum, or private roles in general practice appears to discourage both men and women from partnerships presently. Promoting positive workplace cultures through strong role models, improved flexibility in roles, and skills training could potentially encourage greater uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e545-e555
Number of pages11
JournalThe British journal of general practice : the journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners
Issue number732
Early online date27 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Authors 2023


  • Pregnancy
  • Male
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Sex Factors
  • General Practice/education
  • Family Practice
  • Physicians, Family
  • Focus Groups
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • General Practitioners
  • Qualitative Research

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