More women studying medicine after lifting of quota

For years, medicine was a male-dominated profession. But that changed when a quota that limited the number of female medical students was lifted in 2003.

The National University of Singapore's (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine said that since 2006, about half of each new cohort has been female.

The female representation at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine is a little lower.

Between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the students in its first four batches have been women. The school admitted its first cohort in 2013.

A spokesman for NTU said there is no noticeable difference between the sexes when it comes to grades and how they perform in admission interviews and tests.

The Duke-NUS Medical School, which takes in more than 60 students yearly for its Doctor of Medicine programme, did not share details of its gender breakdown.

The quota on females was set in 1979, as the proportion of women doctors who did not work, or worked only part-time, was higher than for men, and it was costly to train a medical student.

However, the quota was scrapped as more female doctors remained in their jobs over the years.

Miss Wang Kaiying, 19, who will enter the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine at NTU next month, said she has always been interested in medicine.

The only child of a lecturer and an information technology security specialist has done volunteer work, tutoring pupils from poor families, and organised activities for patients at the Institute of Mental Health. She finds work helping others to be meaningful.

The Raffles Institution student, who scored eight As for her A levels, said: "I want to help patients through the most vulnerable periods of their lives."

Theresa Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'More women studying medicine after lifting of quota'. Print Edition | Subscribe