Women in medicine: carrying on historic struggles and broadening horizons

(Christina Victoria Craft, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr João Pedro Cadore and Ms. Eduarda Pereira de Barros, two fourth year medical students at UniCesumar, Brazil. She is 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 process of deconstruction of the historical social structure, which guaranteed the majority occupation in medical courses by men, made it possible for women to ascend to medical school.3 This transition process, known as the feminization of medicine, was stimulated by female empowerment and struggles against gender inequality, and supported bringing up to the debate ideological issues that reinforce the role of women in society.3,4

Regardless of biological sex, everyone has skills related to healthcare. Skills such as alleviating suffering, promoting health and well-being, comforting and rehabilitating were never exclusive attitudes of men or women, but necessary prerequisites for any health professional, especially physicians.1 Despite that, medical career unfortunately represents one of the most segregated professions between the genders.2

The insertion of the feminization of medicine in addition to envisioning a promising future supports a historic effort that has endured decades of struggles for equality and raising flags for women, whose, regardless of technical or professional qualification, were objectified and considered inferior to men.1,4 Despite the barriers imposed by society, the role of women is gradually being recognized.3

As much as this process is increasingly consolidated, medicine is still uneven. The female presence in healthcare has increased a lot, but this fact still doesn’t guarantee necessary changes such as equal salary, greater presence in college and positions of administrative leadership in hospitals.5 These professionals are victims of lower wages and worse job conditions, whether due to the right to leave, vacations, among others.

This transformation represents the union of multidirectional efforts, which guarantee equal rights between women and men, whether within professional or personal scope. In this sense, the predominance of females in ​​healthcare area brings up extremely positive consequences. In addition, women have the same or even better ability to conduct medical activities, given the ease in leading, optimizing and recognizing vulnerable populations.5

The need for women in prominent positions in any area is undeniable, and in order to that it’s essential to maintain the feminist struggle for the preservation of rights and the possibility of professional advancement, as well as existing in the opposite sex. The historical struggle and the feminization of this profession represent part of the battle, which must be experienced and stimulated daily in the medical environment, especially by medical students.5

As a numerical majority and a future medical professional, a woman must aim for administrative leadership positions and fight for fair salary, appropriate working conditions and respect, which are her rights once she went through academic activities and qualification just like any other doctor. Only this way, medical students will be the forefront and encouragement for further changes in society, thus benefiting not only this profession, but also serving as inspiration for all others.


  1. Guia Da Profissão Médica. Medical feminization. [internet]; 2016 [accessed sep 25, 2020]. WordPress.com. Available in https://guiadaprofissaomedica.wordpress.com/category/a-mulher-na-medicina/

About the authors

João Pedro Cadore is 22 years old, fourth year medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. He is a monitor of clinical skills discipline and member of Surgery and Pneumology League.

Eduarda Pereira de Barros is 22 years old fourth year medical student at UniCesumar, Brazil. Shee is a monitor of the discipline of human anatomy and a member of Gastroenterology Leaguelinical.

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  1. Laudicéia Sutil Moraes de Barros says:

    Quero primeiramente parabenizar Eduarda Pereira de Barros pelo seu artigo publicado e também pelas palavras exaltando o quanto a mulher é capaz de desempenhar seu papel nas diversas áreas de atuação. Parabéns Eduarda pela sua garra e determinação nos seus estudos. Desejo muito sucesso na sua profissão e na sua vida.

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