Writing a new story in gender inequalities: women gaining space and respect in medicine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Danielle Correia Furtado and Fernanda Clara da Silva, two second year medical students at Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The feminization of medicine has been pointed out by several researches as one of the changes with the greatest impact on the medical profession. However, this scenario was already very different from the current one. Until the 1960s, medicine was mainly exercised by men, it was only after the 1970s that medical schools became a space of greater circulation for women, gradually increasing over the 1980s and 1990s and more rapidly in the first decade of the 21st century.

Although in the past decade they have represented the majority of students in medical schools and the majority of new registered professionals, women continue to suffer a significant negative impact from sexist stereotypes and gender discrimination. Access and permanence are no longer categories of gender discrimination in the medical course, but there is still a great fragility of the achievements and the persistence of inequalities.

Although women have gained an important place in medicine, this has not eliminated gender inequality. There are still hidden segregations that permeate educational institutions; and also the permanence of a set of social determinations that give greater weight and value to men’s work than women’s work. Medical women report a significant negative impact caused by sexist stereotypes and gender discrimination during their formative years.

Subtle forms of discrimination are deeply rooted in medical culture and make men and women not on an equal footing. Gender discrimination presents itself through direct and indirect barriers. One of these inequalities was shown in the Global Report on Gender Inequality, released by the World Economic Forum in late 2015, which points out the gender pay gap. As in the case of Brazil, in which to perform the same job, with the same functions and qualifications, women earn 41% less.

Such results signal the importance of recognizing that experiences and subjectivities are subject to change and of integrating the problematization of dominant discourses into formal curricula, facilitating greater equality of gender, ethnicity and social class. In such a way, it is necessary that gender inequality be debated still in medical universities to try to alleviate the problem from its base: academic training.

For there to be a breakdown of prejudice, inequality and the inferiorization of women, it is necessary to have a subject that addresses the “History of Medicine”, in which it is debated about the first medical schools, the historical landmark in which the woman passed to be accepted in that environment. In addition, it is important that statistical data are also jobs, such as the small number of women in surgery and in leadership positions and the wage gap, for example. It is important to understand if patriarchy and sexism are part of sociocultural factors that bar women’s rights from being characters in their own medical history.


ÁVILA, R.C. Formação das mulheres nas escolas de medicina. Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica, v.38, n.1, p.142-149, jan/mar. 2014. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1590/S0100-55022014000100019. Access on 21 Sep. 2020.

SANTOS, D.T.R. Simone de Beauvoir e Judith Butler: aproximações e distanciamentos e os critérios da ação política. 2015. 102 f. Dissertação (Mestrado em Filosofia) – Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas, Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Guarulhos (SP). Available from: http://repositorio.unifesp.br/handle/11600/49071. Access on 21 Sep. 2020.

ASSIS, P.; KREUGER, M.S.; OROFINO, M.R. Análise dos fatores que levam mulheres médicas a não optarem por especialidades cirúrgicas. Revista de Medicina, São Paulo, v. 99, n. 3, p. 230-235, 2020. ISSN: 1679-9836. DOI: https://doi.org/10.11606/issn.1679-9836.v99i3p230-235. Available from: https://www.revistas.usp.br/revistadc/article/view/150416. Access on 22 Sep. 2020.

About the authors

Danielle Correia Furtado and Fernanda Clara da Silva are both second year medical students at Universidade do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte (UERN) in Mossoró, Brazil. They are member of Local Board of the International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations (IFMSA). Both believe in a world in which education is capable of changing the world, especially inequalities.

the sting Milestone

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

This is the environmental catastrophe you’ve probably never heard of

Electronic cigarettes, a better alternative or a well-advertised product

Parmesan cheese on shelves in Italy (Copyright: European Union, 2014 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Daniela Giusti)

CETA at risk again: Italy says it won’t ratify EU-Canada trade deal over product protection fears

ECB’s unconventional monetary measures give first tangible results

Cleaner Air in 2020: 0.5% sulphur cap for ships enters into force worldwide

Antimicrobial resistance: how can an intersectoral approach between society and healthcare professionals be developed and applied?

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

Cum-ex tax fraud scandal: MEPs call for inquiry, justice, and stronger tax authorities

Davos on Climate Change: citizens demanding more actions while CEOs tried to balance profit with sustainability

Mobility package: Parliament adopts position on overhaul of road transport rules

This top-10 of business risks misses the biggest of them all: climate change

Nepal faces a crisis as COVID-19 stems the flow of remittances

Fairness in the Food Supply Chain: Commission welcomes Member States’ support for greater price transparency

Can we automate our way out of the savings crisis?

Climate action: 4 shifts the UN chief encourages Governments to make

Around 23 million boys have married before reaching 15; ‘we can end this violation’ says UNICEF chief

The multidisciplinary team facing the multidrug resistant form of Tuberculosis in the state of Amazonas (Brazil)

EU and U.S. castigate Facebook on Cambridge Analytica scandal as citizens’ data privacy goes down the drain again

Humans have caused this environmental crisis. It’s time to change how we think about risk

What is hydroponics – and is it the future of farming?

Mental health in medical students: the deciphered quandary

UN chief condemns air strike that hit school bus in northern Yemen, killing scores of children

The European Parliament double-checks the EU 2014-2020 budget

What you need to know about the Sustainable Development Impact Summit

How to help an ageing population stay wealthy for longer

One million facing food shortages, nutrition crisis after Mozambique cyclones: UNICEF

UNICEF chief hopes 2020 will be ‘a year of peace’ for Syria’s children

Polluted lungs: health in the center of environment discussion

MEPs want the EU to play a stronger role in improving public health

Can we put a price on clean air? Yes, we can

Commission introduces surveillance of imports of bioethanol, and remains open to examining requests from other sectors

The European Brain Drain: a truth or a myth?

In this Tokyo cafe, the waiters are robots operated remotely by people with disabilities

How can we produce enough protein to feed 10 billion people?

Reforms in a few countries drive a decline in average OECD labour taxes

Western Sahara: a ‘peaceful solution’ to conflict is possible, says UN envoy

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

This is what a Green New Deal for Europe could look like

How UN cultural treasures helped set the stage for Game of Thrones

Parliament boosts consumer rights online and offline

Militias force nearly 2,000 to leave Libyan capital’s largest shelter for internally-displaced: UNHCR

Key quotes from China’s Premier Li on COVID-19, the economy and US relations

EU Citizenship: New survey shows EU citizens are more aware of their rights

FROM THE FIELD: South Sudan’s green shoots, highlight environmental recovery from war

UN chief hails victory of ‘political will’ in historic Republic of North Macedonia accord

We have a space debris problem. Here’s how to solve it

Hiring more female leaders is good for profits. Here’s the evidence

Why we need to solve our quantum security challenges

70 years on, landmark UN human rights document as important as ever

Righting a wrong: UN Fund helps thousands of sex abuse survivors rebuild their lives

What the future holds for the EU – China relations?

As human genome editing moves from the lab to the clinic, the ethical debate is no longer hypothetical

Companies have a new skill to master – innovation

Why 2020 will see the birth of the ‘trust economy’

The Italian crisis may act as a catalyst for less austerity

Foreign direct investments the success secrete of Eurozone

What makes America the world’s most competitive economy?

Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

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