This paper asserts that the selection of medical specialty by women physicians-in-training is a “choice by constraint.” Comparative data on men and women interns and residents are provided in order to document parameters of constraint in three separate areas: 1) subjective reasons for selection of medical specialty and subspecialty; 2) the type of practice a physician intends to enter; and 3) the differential function served by high vs. low interaction specialties.

Findings suggest that severe constraints occur on the specific level of subspecialty, rather than on the more general level of specialty. Findings also show that high and low interaction specialties serve two distinctly separate socioemotional functions for different types of women. Within the present medical system these functions are considerably restrictive.

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