One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Katerina Drakos, a 5th year medical student from the Lisbon School of Medicine and is a member of the Medical Students Association of Portugal,. 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.


A short reflection concerning women leaders. 

On the 8th of March, International Women’s Day, the world witnessed a surge of support for women and their established role in society. My own medical school proudly released an infographic with remarkably high percentages of women doctors, researchers, etc. However, one number struck me the most: amidst the 60% through 80% of women in medicine, only 21% of high-standing leadership positions were held by women1

Naturally, the question everyone started asking, was “why?”.

Recently, I had the privilege of listening to Dr. Paula Johnson talk about women’s health and role in medicine and how there are two main barriers to closing the gender gap: social isolation and sexual harassment2. And when asked about the percentage disparity, she acknowledged that in countries where women are well-established doctors, the expected 50% occupancy of leadership positions by women is not often reached. 

With this is mind, and still contemplating the 21% of women that ought to be much nearer to 50%, I found myself scrolling through Twitter, when I came across a riddle. It goes as follows: “A father is about to bring his son to a job interview, […]. Just when arriving, […] the son receives a phone call. He looks up at this father, who says: ‘’Go ahead, pick it up.’’ The caller is the CEO of the stock trading company, who says: ‘’Good luck son… you’ve got this.’’ The boy hangs up the phone and again looks at his father, who is still sitting next to him […]. How is this possible?”3

Considering the title, you have probably guessed the correct answer (his mother) and I shamefully admit that the answer never even crossed my mind. Me, an open feminist, raised by strong female figures, failed to imagine his mother as the CEO. 

This moment was game-changing: how can we, women, assume leadership roles such as CEOs if we are still struggling to accept these roles as commonplace?

This being said, I am aware that we are succeeding in closing the gender gap and some stereotypes are nowadays regarded as remnants of a past generation. Women are no longer, at least publicly, seen as “submissive” or “overly emotional”, just as they are no longer expected to be “domestic” and “husband-pleasing”. We are experiencing a paradigm shift, as women start to feel more confident in making the first cut during surgical operations and assume leadership roles.

In conclusion, what recent research has taught me, is that society needs to begin by changing its mindset and aim to bring subconscious bias into the spotlight. Women need to be seen as role-models, accepted and recognized for their hard work and determination. Dr. Paula mentioned that you cannot have excellence without diversity, and that the answers we seek are shaped by the questions we ask. Diversity is therefore essential, and we must strive to be equal in our differences. As Dr. Paula beautifully quoted in her speech, we should be “ready to imagine a different world and be ready to fight for it”4.

References

  1. FMUL no Feminino [Internet]. Medicina.ulisboa.pt. 2021 [cited 23 March 2021]. Available from: https://www.medicina.ulisboa.pt/sites/default/files/2021-03/fmul-no-feminino8-de-marcodia-internacional-da-mulher-2021v2.pdf
  2. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: https://doi.org/10.17226/24994.
  3. Celebrating Women’s Achievements All Over the World. Mindspace [Internet]. 2021 [cited 23 March 2021];. Available from: https://www.mindspace.me/magazine/2020-02-27_celebrating-womens-achievements-all-over-the-world
  4. Roy A. ‘The pandemic is a portal’. Financial Times [Internet]. 2020 [cited 23 March 2021];. Available from: https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

About the author

Katerina Drakos is a 5th year medical student from the Lisbon School of Medicine and is a member of the Medical Students Association of Portugal, ANEM-Portugal, National Member Organization (NMO) of the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). She is one of the two Portuguese National Exchange Officers and works closely with other mobility issues in her NMO. She is particularly interested in mental health and psychiatric disorders and advocates for the freedom of expression, gender equity and initiatives that keep students well-informed regarding current events.

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

SRHR Response to HIV Global epidemic, what’s next?

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Miraculous’ music made by hearing-impaired children

How COVID-19 has changed what we search for online

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Three things Nigeria must do to end extreme poverty

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part I)

The future of manufacturing is smart, secure and stable

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

Threatened by rising sea levels, the Maldives is building a floating city

Conflicts and extreme climate change threatens access to food in 39 countries – UN agriculture report

Investing in working conditions and quality jobs

COVID-19 WAVE III: Were the Lessons Learned from Last Year Implemented?

Seeing through the mist of myths of Coronavirus

Ingredients for a new life: how cooking helps refugees and migrants blend in

European Commission reacts to the US restrictions on steel and aluminium affecting the EU

What are food crises and how many people are affected by them?

Resolving banks with depositors’ money?

COVID-19: EU must step up efforts to tackle medicine shortages

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

All for equality – 2020 is a pivotal year for Gender Equality

Why is scientific collaboration key? 4 experts explain

Guterres underscores UN role in achieving a free, secure Internet

Globalization 4.0 must provide for the poorest, or it risks causing chaos for everyone

European Youth Forum demands immediate action & binding agreement on climate change

‘Race against time’ to help women who bore brunt of Cyclone Idai: UN reproductive health agency

The EU-US trade agreement, victim of right-wing extremists and security lunatics

Brexit: PM May must hush Boris Johnson to unlock the negotiations

EU elections: Can EU citizens’ awareness eradicate fake news more efficiently than Facebook, Twitter and Google?

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate crisis and food risks, fresh violence threat for millions of Syrians, calls for calm in Kashmir

5 ways the WTO can make investment easier and boost sustainable development

Alexis Tsipras ready to test Eurozone’s political sturdiness; Up to what point?

The Parliament paves the way for the creation of the European Banking Union

COP21 Breaking News_07 December: “Remove Roadblocks to Climate Action”

Climate change update: will the UN member states regain momentum despite the little progress at COP23?

Migration: Better travel safe than sorry

Look to cities, not nation-states, to solve our biggest challenges

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: Another sleepless night for the negotiators before Indaba meeting

Password managers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s why

EU/Africa, Caribbean and Pacific: towards which partnership?

France breaks budget promises once again and the EU’s finance offices are shaking

UN chief pays tribute to the courage of DR Congo citizens, and the sacrifice of blue helmets

3 steps to boost your digital safety while working from home

Entrepreneurial leadership: what does it take to become a leader?

Coronavirus: here’s what you need to know about face masks

Questions and Answers on the EU Digital Covid Certificate

At last some rules on banks

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate change and youth inaction: oblivion or nonchalance?”, AIESEC wonders from Brussels

Brexit: EP Group leaders support a flexible extension until 31/1/20

New Zealand will have a new ‘well-being budget,’ says Jacinda Ardern

MEPs react to breaches of human rights in Moldova, Burundi and Somalia

On youth unemployment: unemployment is even bleaker for youth with disabilities

Financial stability: Commission adopts final one-year extension of the transitional regime for capital requirements for non-EU central counterparties (CCPs)

The hidden risks nature loss poses for businesses

Lessons learned from Medical Education in the times of COVID-19

Coronavirus: EU Civil Protection Mechanism activated for the repatriation of EU citizens

Three myths keeping government procurement stuck in the past

Deadly Mali attack to be investigated by UN rights experts

Eurozone in trouble after Nicosia’s ‘no’

The EU condemns Faroe Islands and Iceland to poverty

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