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By Michael Ryan (auth.)

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Sample text

For Elshtein, as it happens, those facts merely serve the minimalist purpose of disproving notions that women will not make competent doctors; his evident preference is for a mainly male occupational group. Among general physicians in Estonia, he says, men improve the level of their professional competence to a greater extent than women, and in explanation he refers to sociological studies which reveal that women have two to three times less spare time than men. ) Later on in the book he returns to this theme with the comment: 'I have known doctors at whose homes the reading matter comprises only "The Fashion Journal" and cookery books'.

7 At this point an important qualification should be entered. In respect of remuneration very substantial differences exist between the vast majority of doctors who form the rank-and-file, and the relatively small numbers of leading medical scientists, academics and high-ranking medical bureaucrats. Although published evidence on this matter is sp&rse, adequate confirmation is provided by a text which cites the salaries payable to senior staff of research institutes in the mid-1970s. It records that directors received from 400 to 600 roubles per month, deputy directors 320 to 550 and scientific secretaries from 250 to 400.

Indeed, it seems justifiable to identify multiple interconnections between the high doctor-to-population quotient, low salaries and the high proportion of female doctors. Taken together, these can be identified as crucially significant elements of a human resource strategy which has been characteristic of the Soviet health service. To say that is by no means to imply an absence of women doctors in pre-Revolutionary days. Indeed, it is a striking fact that, on the eve of the First World War, women represented as many as 10 per cent of the country's total of civilian doctors and dentists.

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