Although females represent a high proportion of medical graduates, women are under represented at consultant level in many hospital specialties. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were undertaken which established female representation at all levels of the medical workforce in Ireland in 2011 and documented the personal experiences of a sample of female specialists. The proportions of female trainees at initial and higher specialist training levels are 765(53%) and 656(55%) respectively but falls to 1,685(32%) at hospital specialist level (p< 0.0001). Significantly fewer women are found at specialist as compared to training levels in anaesthesia (p = 0.04), emergency medicine (p = 0.02), medicine (p < 0.0001), obstetrics/gynaecology (p = 0.0005), paediatrics (p = 0.006), pathology p = 0.03) and surgery (p < 0.0001). The lowest proportion of female doctors at specialist level exists in the combined surgical specialties 88(10%); the highest is in psychiatry 380(53%). Qualitative findings indicate that females who complete specialist training are wary of pursuing either flexible training or part time work options and experience discrimination at a number of levels. They appear to be resilient to this and tolerate it. Balancing motherhood and work commitments is the biggest challenge faced by female doctors with children and causes some to change career pathways.