Closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Sharranya Ravichandran, a second year medical student at Government Medical College, Omandurar Estate in Chennai, India. . 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Equality between men and women was a core tenet enshrined in the UN Charter in 1945. But , 75 years later, we live in a world of widespread gender inequality, and as the Secretary General has warned, “Change is coming at a pace that is too slow for the women and girls whose lives depend on it.”

A lack of women in leadership positions, a gender pay gap, stereotypes and self-confidence, all play a role in gender inequality in medicine. At the Inaugural Women in Medicine Symposium, Dr. Vineet Arora, MD, detailed these issues and discussed how women could be more empowered in the medical field. Looking at the data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, 46% applicants to medical school are women, but only one in five full professors are women and only 16% are deans.

A recent study in selected medical universities and hospitals in Germany, Sweden, Austria and the U.K., reveals that while the percentage of female medical students and doctors is now well within the 40-60% gender balance zones, women are less well-represented among specialists and remain significantly under-represented among senior doctors and full professors. The study also finds that gender inequality is stronger within academic enterprises than within hospital enterprises, and stronger in the middle management than at the top level.

Another report from the American Medical Association and AAMC finds that  male doctors dominate Orthopedic Surgery(85%), Neurological Surgery(82%) and Interventional Radiology(81%), and female doctors dominate Obstretics and Gynaecology(83%), Allergy and Immunology(74%) and Pediatrics(72%).

According to a paper by Dr. Mita Bhadra on Women in Medicine, women comprised more than 50% of medical college admissions in India, but the figure reduces to one third at PG and doctoral levels,  and only 17% of all allopathic doctors in India are women. Experts say this could be because women even today have to struggle to balance work and family responsibilities.

When we take an overview of the problems faced by the female doctors, we see that reinforcement of traditional gender roles, sexism and lack of effective mentoring are the problems that need to be tackled immediately. Suggested strategies for overcoming these obstacles include:

  • Creating supportive female networks among students and practitioners
  • Peer-mentoring
  • Using gender-sensitive language
  • Designing favourable working conditions

The importance of training medical students and professionals in gender analysis and gender-sensitive programming is suggested as a strategy towards achieving gender equality in health. Students should not be pressured directly or indirectly to enter particular specialities because of social expectations about the professional strengths or weaknesses of men and women.

Another aspect that deserves our attention (but not taken into consideration by analysts so far) is that girls are in general more “STUDIOUS” than boys, as can be seen by the results of higher secondary examinations: In India, every year more number of girls pass the examinations and more girls achieve higher ranks. So it is no wonder that more girls get medical college admission. But after entering the college, again, a majority of girl students continue to study books and score more marks , but fail to pick up practical skills. This is a serious problem that needs to be attended to by the professors. Not that all girls lack practical skills. In fact, in India, more than 85% of nurses are females and obviously they are highly skilled in day-to-day choirs requiring practical skills. So the female medical students must themselves take initiative to acquire all-round basic knowledge, including practical skills, before specializing in a particular field. It is also suggested that from among the highly skilled female nurses, a few ‘studious type’ women are encouraged to pursue a degree course in medicine, either through lateral entry or by a separate specially designed course.

To conclude, only A SINCERE EFFORT FROM ALL CONCERNED can help in closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights in the medical field.

About the author

SHARRANYA RAVICHANDRAN is a second year medical student at GOVERNMENT MEDICAL COLLEGE, OMANDURAR ESTATE in Chennai, India. She is a member of the Medical Students Association of India (MSAI) as well as a member at the Global Consortium of Medical Education and Research (GCMER).Being a curious medico, she is interested in exploring different fields of medicine by doing research studies and gaining more knowledge from them. She is also a voracious speaker, having voluntarily hosted events at the MSAI, including ‘PANDAmic’, a National Campaign, with an aim to create awareness among medical students about the mental health and academic aspects of the coronavirus pandemic.

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

EU Civil Protection Mechanism must be sufficiently funded to save lives

The power of digital tools to transform mental healthcare

A Year in China

GSMA Outlines New Developments For MWC19 Shanghai

“Our house is on fire.” 16 year-old Greta Thunberg wants action

FROM THE FIELD: Conversations about Conservation

The Amazon is reaching a dangerous tipping-point. We need to scale solutions now if we have any chance of saving it

How we measure stakeholder capitalism will determine our recovery

UN underscores the need to celebrate indigenous peoples, not confine them

South Sudan famine threat: UN food security agency in ‘race against time’

Parliament seals 2014 EU budget and the spending ceiling until 2020

How COVID-19 is taking gaming and esports to the next level

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

COVID-19 put 1.6 billion children out of school. Here’s how to upgrade education post-pandemic

Historic first, as Tolstoy’s War and Peace lands in Geneva, to mark international centenary

Groundbreaking cancer-fighting drugs now included in updated UN list of essential medicines

What the Women’s World Cup can teach us about capitalism

Why remote working doesn’t have to mean alienated employees

What’s an ‘essential service’? Not knowing could block access to key digital services during COVID

Summer 2019 Economic Forecast: Growth clouded by external factors

One-third of Afghans need urgent humanitarian aid, millions suffer ‘acute food insecurity’

Antitrust: Commission consults stakeholders on a possible new competition tool

Disease slashing global meat output, cereals boom, bananas under watch: FAO

DiscoverEU: 20,000 more young people will explore Europe in 2020

‘No safe way’ into battle-scarred Afghan city of Ghazni to deliver aid as traumatized children search for parents

China-EU Special Report: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang endorses China’s big investment on Juncker’s plan at 10th China-EU Business Summit

This Japanese town has banned urban sprawl

EU to relocate 40,000 migrants across the bloc: first step of a long due substantial reform?

How the inventor of the internet plans to make it safe and accessible for everyone

Auditors say EU spending delivers limited value for money but the timing of their report poses questions

What just happened? 5 themes from the COP24 climate talks in Poland

Human trafficking: stronger measures to protect women, children and migrants

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

Two-thirds of global drug deaths now from opioids: UN drugs report

Agreement reached on new EU Solidarity Corps

Google’s bare truth: Europe’s Chief denies EU accusations but admits they “don’t always get it right”

State aid: Commission approves Luxembourg guarantee measure to further support economy in coronavirus outbreak

Nagorno-Karabakh: EU allocates additional €3 million in humanitarian aid for conflict-affected civilians

State aid: Commission approves €24.7 million of Italian support to compensate Alitalia for further damages suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

This 3D-printed steak could help us reduce meat consumption

Powering through the pandemic

Why your next work meeting should be a ‘walk-and-talk’

4 eco-friendly products put sustainable spins on classic practices, from teacups to hankies

Parliament closes legal loophole to stop excessive Ukrainian chicken imports

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

6 ways countries can prepare for the next infectious disease pandemic

UN rights expert ‘strongly recommends’ probe by International Criminal Court into ‘decades of crimes’ in Myanmar

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

The Bavarians threaten Berlin and Brussels with immigration crisis

EU Member States test their cybersecurity preparedness for free and fair EU elections

With the right leadership, sustainable finance can help us shift to a low-carbon economy

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

How to provide health education and thus create better health systems

Mental health during COVID-19 outbreak: who takes care of health professionals?

IMF: All you want to know about Argentina

ICC Appeals Chamber acquits former Congolese Vice President Bemba from war crimes charges

Skills: Five new cross-border collaboration projects selected for Erasmus+ funding to develop excellence in vocational training in Europe

LGBTQI+ and medicine

Syria: UN chief warns Idlib offensive may set off ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

YouTube stars get creative at UN, to promote tolerance

More Stings?



  1. […] Closing the Gaps in Accelerating Women’s Rights: The Role of Medical Students European Sting […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your 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