Gender equality: an issue much talked about but less acted upon

Gender Equality 2018 UN Women

(UN Women, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Ana Imtiaz, a self-motivated, goal oriented first year medical student in MBBS degree program at Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan. Ms Imtiaz 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.

Gender equality is an issue much talked about, but less acted upon. Medicine, a profession regarded as one of the noblest one, is packed with sexism. In a recent study, volunteers were asked to recommend a jail sentence for a hospital administrator who unethically filed a false Medicare claim.

If the administrator was named Jack, the jail sentence was 80 days, but if the name was Jane, the sentence was 130 days.[1] Surprisingly enough, statistics show that women are less likely to be subject to disciplinary hearings.[2]

Research shows that women are also less paid in medicine.[3] Some women simply don’t negotiate, which is due to the pressure placed on self-advocating women. Women who stand up for themselves face much more social cut off than women who don’t. On the other hand, women who don’t confer are perceived as unguarded. In 2004, a scandal broke in the UK. A president of a well-known college in London hinted that feminization of medicine has led to weakening of this field.[4]

Recently, one of my colleagues was asked a question related to fertility, unfortunately she couldn’t answer. “You are a female, you should know this” was the comment she was met with. In another incident, during my initial days at med school, a friend was asked about her high school. Now she had the privilege of studying at one of the most reputable and renowned institutes of the country. The professor went on to say that girls do not belong in such institutions. The student could not protest. As is what happens in many of these situations.

For the past few years in Pakistan, many female graduates have had to squander their years and years of tough grind in med school simply because once they get married, their husbands don’t allow them to work outside of home. The situation still prevails, but to a lesser extent. This issue has been highlighted by our mainstream media many a time. Since girls dominate boys in med school, majority believes that they should implement a quota system, where half the seats are occupied by boys and same for girls.

But people are oblivious to the substantial problem, or they simply choose to be ignorant. Why CAN’T we let women work if they are qualified? The presence of women becomes crucial in medicine in countries like Pakistan, where men are hesitant about women of their family consulting a male doctor. Similarly, a lot of people in our villages don’t have even the slightest idea about sex-ed. Unsurprisingly, the population of our country is escalating tremendously. In such backward areas, women need to guide other women about the significance of sex education.

There is a dire need of combating all these issues in the world of medicine. The first step needed to be taken is that of acceptance. Once the world starts welcoming women in this field, starts behaving with them the same way as it behaves with men, addresses the issues such as gender pay gap, not only will there be harmony but the advancement in medicine could be exceptional.

References

[1] http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/bipolar-disorder/gender-inequality-medicine-too-much-evidence-ignore

[2] http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/health/is-medicine-feminized-but-sexist-1.1122390

[3] http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/26/pf/gender-pay-gap-doctors/index.html

[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/1468464/Women-weakening-medical-profession.html

About the author

Ms Ana Imtiaz is a self-motivated, goal oriented first year medical student in MBBS degree program at Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan. She is interested in writing content and making art and currently is working with Publication support division team of IFMSA Pakistan. Ana has participated in a number of local art competitions including Aitchison art and performing art fest.

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