Glass ceiling being broken into pieces

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Talyta Thibes Tecilla and Ms. Bruna Braga Kapusta, two 21 year old medical students in the 8th period of medicine at Unicesumar, 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 term “glass ceiling” was used by Marilyn Loden in the late 1970s in a speech that approached the related barriers of advancing women in leadership positions, although these impediments cannot be touched or are officially instituted. Bringing this term to the current academic environment of medicine, despite being a discourse of more than 40 years, it’s clear that the institutionalized gender of women reflects the way in which she is still in a position of lesser professional prestige, often being marginalized in the women’s health process by the historical heaviness brought by gender. This view allows the medical student, within this environment that for a long time met only male expectations, changes that accelerate and correct defects that hinder the advancement of women.

Entering the scope of professional medicine, we see that there’s a high rate of women in the medical field, despite the fact that leadership and higher valuation positions are commonly occuped by men. The number of male physicians is greater than women physicians, 64% to 36%, according to 2019 data from the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in the United States of America. However, this scenario will change, as, according to studies by the Association of American medical colleges (AAMC), there are currently more women matriculated in medical school. In this sense, there is a greater union of the female gender, and a proof of this is the ‘medbikini’ movement that emerged after a study carried out in the United Kingdom, which reinforced patriarchal ideas relating the behavior of female physicians and their ways of dressing with their professional potential.

This situation reverberated not only among doctors, but also among medical students, especially female students who demonstrated, through social networks, that women are still the target of unequal criticism between genders. This reinforces the role of the future doctor in combating this inequality, considering that among medical students, according to data from AAMC 2017, one in seven students reported having been commented on offensive sexist comments or names and about 6% believed who got a low rating or grade due to gender and not performance.

In view of the scenario, September appears as a commemorative month for women in medicine, and therefore, despite being a “traditionally” male environment, it is essential that the medical student is aware of the inequality that still exists between genders. This can be accomplished through access to information about this topic, support for the movements mentioned, for example, in addition to the greater focus of the medical school on this during medical training. In addition, it is necessary to introduce these ideals from an early age so that these future doctors can assume and accept positions of leadership and recognition for merits and excellence, and not for prejudices related to gender. In this way, the so-called “glass ceiling” starts to take on a simplistic function: only that of reflecting and remembering promising and prestigious attitudes made daily by women health professionals.


  1. Jagsi R Sexual harassment in medicine—#MeToo. N Engl J Med. 2018; 378: 209-211
  2. MURPHY, Brendan. #MeToo in med ed:: 1 in 7 students subjected to sexist remarks. 1 in 7 students subjected to sexist remarks. 2018.
  3. Carnes, M., Morrissey, C., & Geller, S. E. (2008). Women’s health and women’s leadership in academic medicine: hitting the same glass ceiling?. Journal of women’s health (2002), 17(9), 1453–1462.
  4. Mauvais-Jarvis F, Bairey Merz CN, Barnes PJ, Brinton RD, Carrero J-J, DeMeo DL, de Vries GJ, Epperson CN, Govindan R, Klein SL et al: Sex and gender: Modifiers of health, disease and medicine. Lancet in press.

About the author

Talyta Thibes Tecilla, 21 years old and in the 8th period of medicine at Unicesumar, Brazil. Currently, She is the president of Academic League of Forensic Medical of Maringá (LAMFMA) and member of the Academic League of Angiology and Vascular Surgery (LAMACIV). She has always been fascinated by the possibility of taking care of others and bringing information to those who never had the opportunity to have it. 

Bruna Braga Kapusta, 21 years old and in the 8th period of medicine at Unicesumar, Brazil.  Nowadays, she is the president of League of Pulmonology (LAMAP), director of Academic League of Intensive Medicine in Maringá (LAMIM), participate of scientific department of Miguel Nicolelis Academic Center (CAMN) and member of the Academic League of Angiology and Vascular Surgery (LAMACIV).

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: 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