Gender equality and medicine in the 21st century: an equity unachieved

Dr Tedros WHO IFMSA

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

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Maryam Zaheer, 20 years old writer, winner of various prizes in national story writing and poetry competitions. Ms Zaheer 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.

The luckiest of the luckiest women who muddle through the stereotypes and manage to get themselves enrolled into a medical college are made to fight another battle for survival in the very competitive medical battlefield.

The leaky pipeline phenomenon clearly explains how the number of women drastically drops from the enrolment strength in medical colleges to the ladies who reach the posts of consultants. The facts have evident proofs.

Marriages and household responsibilities are the prime impediments in the way of women wanting to continue to pursue their careers. An uncooperative spouse and in laws hinder the potential life saver from performing her duty and continuing her job.

The gender based quota system is another obstacle that the females, even brighter than some of their counterpart males, have to overcome. A fixed proportion of males is inducted at both undergraduate and post graduate levels despite at times, having a weaker academic performance than females to fulfil the quota.

Females yearn family support and cooperation when it comes to hard area postings but mostly in vain, so some medical schools mostly prefer male candidates for admission.

Work place harassment and physical abuse force women to give up as it leads to mental disturbance. A safer working environment can ensure better concentration and devotion on the lady doctor’s part.

Women however are not the only ones facing gender bias. Males counter them too along their professional journey.

Female general practitioners have outnumbered males which according to a general opinion is unnecessary since most of these females only work part time because of domestic obligations.

Males have to struggle a lot to make a female patient comfortable enough to talk to them, especially in rural areas. Topics like menstruation and pregnancy are not very comfortably discussed with the male physicians which not only makes it difficult for them to get through undergraduate exams but also to perform satisfactorily in the professional field. Gynaecology and obstetrics are an understood no go area for the males according to the societal norms. However, when given the opportunity, male gynaecologists have made their ineradicable mark in the field. Doctor Rashid Latif from Lahore is a renowned gynaecologist who is trusted more by the local patients than the female professionals.

A wage system based on services per hour should be strictly implemented so as to eliminate any objection from the other party since most male practitioners complain that they work more hours as compared to their female counter parts (considering the maternity and other leaves they get) but get paid equally.

The solution to the problems of both the genders lies in mutual respect and understanding. Also, it should be accepted and acted upon that a doctor, when dealing with a patient, has no sex and is purely a messiah from the lord sent to heal His men.

About the author

I am Maryam Zaheer, 20 years old writer, winner of various prizes in national story writing and poetry competitions. I also work as a professional free lancer and am a member of IFMSA Publication Support Division. I am also the sub editor of my college’s newsletter and have gotten my writings featured on renowned platforms all across the social media. I am an MBBS student and am successfully balancing my literature fanaticism with the polar opposite, medical science.

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