Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

Dr Tedros WHO__

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Barbara Marinho, a Brazilian medical student at Universidade Potiguar, Brazil. Ms Marinho is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Do you recall of any notable female physician from your history classes? Or maybe from science classes? Any female “equivalents” Hippocrates or Galen? Despite the lack of appreciation and knowledge regarding women in medicine, they existed, and perhaps this fact has influences in today’s world.

About hundreds of years ago, women who played any role in treating people were called healers, and there was only very few of them. Those who manage to obtain this position had to face several challenges towards their proper right to care, as they were not able to gain medical training from surgeons. They were saw as incompetent and dangerous in the eyes of male practitioners and church, and when the opposite was proved, they were branded as witches.

Today, fortunately, we are not judge as insane while making the decision of doing medicine anymore. We are not accused of black magic when our performance is outstanding, neither persecuted by religious institutions because of our vocation. The world has changed, and we keep fighting for gender equality. As the reality of society reflects in scientific development, we had the chance of becoming remarkable scientists. We became Nobel winners, WHO leaders, and many other practitioners who worked hard in their everyday life to care for the sick and the injured, but we still have many challenges to face.

Despite our achievements, medicine is still dominated by male figures, salaries are still not equal, and we are given less opportunities. According to the Journal of Woman’s Health, even when we constitute the highest proportion of the physician workforce, we are still underrepresented in occupations of prestige and leadership. In many countries as Japan, the low number of female physicians reflects the social belief that motherhood and careers should not be united –  not too different from what happened in the Middle Age.

Last year, the JAMA published a study from Harvard compiling the extend of the payed gap in medicine, analyzing the salary of 10,000 physicians, and the results were unbelievable: $19,878 per year of gap, even after adjusting factors of compensations as age and experience. Before that, the gap averaged $51,315 a year. Despite that, in countries as Scandinavia, Sweden, and Denmark, the almost equal number of female and male physicians have coincided with work-life policies, the belief that childhood and work can and must be combined.

Traditional beliefs of gender roles can shape disparities in women practicing medicine all over the world, and the understanding about different experiences from different regions can vary dramatically. Increasing participation of female students in the medical field is the first step towards gender equality, and depends directly from social policies. Today, 46% of medical practitioners in training and half of all medical students are female. We have a long way to go, and we will keep fighting for equality.

References

  1. Bonham K.S., Stefan M.I. (2017) Women are underrepresented in computational biology: An analysis of the scholarly literature in biology, computer science and computational biology. PLoS Comput Biol13(10): e1005134. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005134;
  2. Ramakrishnan, A., Sambuco, D., Jagsi, R. (2014) Women’s Participation in the Medical Profession: Insights from Experiences in Japan, Scandinavia, Russia, and Eastern Europe.  Journal of Women’s Health23(11), 927–934. http://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2014.4736;
  3. Mayer, A.P., Blair, J.E., Ko, M.G., Hayes, S.N. et al (2014) Gender distribution of U.S. Medical School Faculty by Academic Track Type. Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, vol. 84, issue 2, pp. 312-317;
  4. Jagsi, R., Griffith, K.A., Stewart, A., Sambuco, D. et al (2013) Gender Differences in Salary in a Recent Cohort of Early-Career Physician-ResearchersAcademic Medicine : Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges88(11), 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a71519. http://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a71519.

About the author

Barbara is a Brazilian medical student at Universidade Potiguar. She was also a student of Biomedical Sciences focusing in Neuroscience and Epigenetics at Queen Mary, University of London, and Plague and Disease in Medieval City at University of East Anglia, winning the Sqore Scholarship Award and the Santander Universities Scholarship of 2017. She works in Medical Education and Sexual and Reproductive Health at the IFMSA Brazil, and her interests are Gender Equality, LGBT Health, Neurosurgery, and Aerospace Medicine.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

CDNIFY @ TheNextWeb 2014

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Refugee crisis update: Commission is struggling alone with little help from EU or G7 leaders

This is how people in Europe are helping lead the energy charge

Quality Internships: Towards a Toolkit for Employers

Malta and Slovakia: serious shortcomings in the rule of law

This robot has soft hands. It could be the future of sustainable production

Love unlimited

Banking package: Parliament and Council reach an agreement

Defence: European Commission paves the way for first joint industrial projects under EU budget

The anti-vaccine movement shows the peril of a post-truth world

Everything you need to know about water

Reform of road use charges to spur cleaner transport and ensure fairness

Protests, violence in Haiti prompts international call for ‘realistic and lasting solutions’ to crisis

It’s time to fulfil the promises made to women 25 years ago

JADE Spring Meeting 2016 highlights

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

European Youth Event 2016 – bridge between youth and policy makers

Contact the Sting

China in My Suburbs

World Population Day: ‘A matter of human rights’ says UN

Cybersecurity needs a holistic approach. Here are three ways to build protection

A Sting Exclusive: “Junior Enterprises themselves carry out projects focusing on the environment”, JADE President Daniela Runchi highlights from Brussels

European Commission reacts to the US restrictions on steel and aluminium affecting the EU

Turkey presents a new strategy for EU accession but foreign policy could be the lucky card

Why carbon capture could be the game-changer the world needs

How telehealth can get healthcare to more people

Two days left until General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), lots of newsletter opt-outs but does the EU citizen really know?

Can the world take the risk of a new financial armageddon so that IMF doesn’t lose face towards Tsipras?

From glass ceiling to glass cliff: women are not a leadership quick-fix

MEPs vote to limit negative impact of no-deal Brexit on citizens

How tomorrow’s buildings will make you – and the planet – healthier

Mainland Europe adopts Germanic cartel business patterns

UN nuclear watchdog will help verify DPRK nuclear programme, if agreement forthcoming

FROM THE FIELD: How the smell of fresh bread transformed one refugee life

Economic sentiment and business climate stagnate in miserable euro area

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

The power of digital tools to transform mental healthcare

“The Belt and Road Initiative should be mutually beneficial for EU and China and every participating country”, Vice-President Papadimoulis of the European Parliament underscores from European Business Summit 2018

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Drugs cost too much. There is a better way to fund medical innovation

Make progress or risk redundancy, UN chief warns world disarmament body

Is there a way out of the next financial crisis? Can more printed money or austerity save us all?

Here’s what a Korean boy band can teach us about globalization 4.0

Blockchain can change the face of renewable energy in Africa. Here’s how

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

How can we regulate disruptive technologies?

Parliament backs a modernised EU electoral law

Supercomputing could solve the world’s problems, and create many more

Globally, youth are the largest poverty-stricken group, says new UN report

Risks rising in corporate debt market

Amazon indigenous groups want to create a nature sanctuary the size of Mexico

Unlock the value proposition for Connected Insurance

Managing and resolving conflicts in a politically inclined group of team members

EU budget: Stepping up the EU’s role as a security and defence provider

Mali: UN chief calls for calm as clashes leave over 20 dead in Mopti

Is Erdogan losing game and match within and without Turkey?

The Council unblocks all EU budgets

Italy’s revised budget remains roughly unchanged waiting for Europe’s fury

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s