Gender Equality and medicine in the 21st Century: we want the fair share

Tedros WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Julia Puaschunder, a 5th year medical student at the Medical University of Innsbruck Austria, and currently part of the Extended Executive Board at the Austrian Medical Students’ Association. Ms Puaschunder 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.

If I’m asked, when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, I say, ‚When there are nine.‘ People are shocked – but there’ve been nine men, like forever, and nobody’s ever raised their eyebrows at that.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice

Some people might think that raising awareness on gender inequality in Europe is complaining from a very privileged position. Women in Europe have the right to vote, to seek education and to work. Women can dress how they want to and say what they want to. But do we have the right to ask for more?

The recent release of the Gender Equality Index revealed the most obvious issues women face in Europe nowadays: When it comes to power in politics, economics or at the work place, as in the share of ministers or the share of members of boards, women are still underrepresented even though women seek higher education and have better qualifications than a decade ago. For years already, there are more female medical students than male medical students in Austria, yet female chief physicians are and will be a rarity. It shows that a female quota should not be a taboo word anymore. The female quota should be viewed as a stepping-stone to help qualified women to get their seat at the table. It takes politicians – female and male – to take a stand and ensure equality. Women deserve more than symbolic speeches and gender-neutral language. Women want their fair share.

The Index also shed light upon inequalities that women must face day-to-day. Women still have to tackle a lot more in their daily life than men- household, cooking, caring for their children, are still mostly female tasks. Female doctors often need to work half-time to be able to master those challenges. This issue is probably the most difficult to combat.  Indeed, there can’t be a law, forcing men to do laundry. But what there can be, is men living by example – husbands taking chores off of their wives’ shoulders, fathers teaching their sons how to support women and treat them with respect. There will never be full gender equality, if only half of the population is fighting for it.

Sexism, not only at the work place, is an extremely disregarded issue, particularly in conservative countries, where it seems to be socially acceptable to reduce women to their bodies. Especially female doctors must work twice as hard to gain respect from their male co-workers. I myself lost count on how many times a doctor referred to me as the “pretty young lady”, while referring to the male medical students as “colleagues”. It takes a support system of politicians, employers, husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends and colleagues to ensure that sexism is unacceptable in today’s Europe.

Yes, we have come a long way. But there is still a large gap between gender equality on paper that so many strong women fought for in the past, and the challenges women must face in the real world. So yes, we do have the right to ask for more. And yes, we do have the right to get it.

Reference:

http://eige.europa.eu/gender-equality-index

About the author

I am a 5th year medical student at the Medical University of Innsbruck Austria, and currently part of the Extended Executive Board at the Austrian Medical Students’ Association. I have strong interests in Public Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health and I am involved in several activities regarding those topics at my University. I truly believe that this world would be a better place with more women in politics and leadership positions.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

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

Celebrate love, strengthen partnerships to end AIDS epidemic by 2030 says UN agency

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

Chile ups foreign bribery enforcement but flawed case resolutions are insufficient to ensure transparency and accountability

More people now plan to get a COVID-19 vaccine than in December

This Latin American country is keeping COVID-19 firmly under control. How?

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Sudan, Libya, Yemen updates, solutions for e-waste, flood response in Iran, online security for children

Main results of EU-Japan summit: Tokyo, 17/07/2018

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

LGBTQ+ inclusion on the other side of the screen

Can we prevent a surge in pandemic-related homelessness?

EU reconfirms support for Afghanistan at 2020 Geneva Conference

Timor-Leste Foreign Minister highlights value of UN in resolving conflicts

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

China is a renewable energy champion. But it’s time for a new approach

Financial inclusion in India is soaring. Here’s what must happen next

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Draghi cuts the Gordian knot of the Banking Union

This Canadian start-up turns millions of chopsticks into sustainable furniture

COVID-19 is challenging the way we think of chemical industry trends. This is how

Across the world, women outlive men. This is why

These 3 countries are global offshore wind powerhouses

Brexit talks: 2nd round fails to bring the EU and the UK closer on key issues

The EU invites the US and Russia to partition Ukraine

What happens when the Eurogroup decides to help Greece

EU announces record €550 million contribution to save 16 million lives from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

European Banking Union: no one is perfect

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

Africa’s future is innovation rather than industrialization

Violence will not deter Somali people in their pursuit of peace, says UN chief, in wake of lethal attacks

EU Budget 2019 to focus on young people

Armed groups kill Ebola health workers in eastern DR Congo

Economic policy priorities for a post-pandemic recovery

What brands get wrong about China – and how to put it right

China, forever new adventures

New rules to help consumers join forces to seek compensation

4 ways to build businesses that work for good, right now

‘Catastrophic’ healthcare costs put mothers and newborns at risk

Mobile 360 Series – Russia & CIS: Empowering the Digital Economy

These tech start-ups are changing what it means to farm

Insecurity and violence turn Nigeria into a ‘pressure cooker’ that must be addressed, says UN rights expert

UN relief official in Yemen condemns ‘horrific’ attack on passenger buses

How Cameron unwillingly helped Eurozone reunite; the long-term repercussions of two European Council decisions

European Commission authorises third safe and effective vaccine against COVID-19

European Youth Forum on Summit on Jobs and Growth

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Taxes on polluting fuels are too low to encourage a shift to low-carbon alternatives

AI-assisted recruitment is biased. Here’s how to make it more fair

Measles claims more than twice as many lives than Ebola in DR Congo

Technology can hinder good mental health at work. Here’s how it can help

Facebook: MEPs demand a full audit by EU bodies to assess data protection

More women than ever are working in Hollywood, but men still dominate key roles

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

G7: A serious setback hardly avoided in iconic Biarritz

German elections: Is Merkel losing ground or Shultz is winning?

EU-UK relations: MEPs approve rules to ensure Eurotunnel safety and cooperation

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica: MEPs pursue personal data breaches probe

Commission extends transparency and authorisation mechanism for exports of COVID-19 vaccines

Hostages to a rampant banking system

CHALLENGING THE ZEITGEIST OF DIGITAL – Change making projects innovate mobile support for refugees, inclusive environments, early breast cancer detection and more

More Stings?

Advertising

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