The female struggle in the face of medical devaluation

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ádrya Natálya Chaves Ribeiro da Silva and Isabella Batista Souza Lessa, two 2nd year medical students at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos (UNICEPLAC), in Brazil. They are affiliated with 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 beginning of the female medical journey was marked by Agnodice, from Greece, who is considered to be the first female doctor and who used to wear men’s clothes to attend anatomy classes, later standing out in the gynecological practice. Despite this, it is still visible today that misogyny is an obstacle in the profession. However, despite the inequalities, we realize that the obstacles imposed by society are being deconstructed so that female leadership can stand out and spaces can be conquered in a more egalitarian way as far as gender is concerned.

In the first analysis, we believe that it is not viable to talk about women’s achievements without mentioning the differences, which are the fruit of a patriarchal heritage, which make the victories more distant and prevent the full insertion of women in medicine. Thus, social silencing, harassment in the workplace, the difficulty in reconciling profession and family, and the devaluation of women’s knowledge are gaps to be closed in the medical field, so that the disproportionate opportunities to reach positions related to decision-making and leadership are increasingly reduced. Moreover, the paradigm of exacerbated sensitivity linked to women should also be mentioned, since the bias that female doctors are not rational, strong or capable enough, makes it impossible for them to advance in specializations such as surgery and orthopedics, which are considered masculine areas. This can be exemplified with a register of the Brazilian College of Surgeons (CBC, 2008), which states that the number of female surgeons in Brazil is around 12%. In other words, as long as machismo exists, barriers will always be installed in the paths of women around the world.

Furthermore, the feminist legacy is an important pillar for a scenario where doctors are more valued, since it is a movement that defends the breaking of paradigms, allowing, then, several historical achievements, such as, for example, the achievement of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to enter a medical school. From then on, changes have been conquered over time, which have made it possible, since then, to build an inspiring representation, which, perhaps, can be considered the main source of encouragement for girls and women to strengthen themselves in the pursuit of their career goals, since from these successful female models there can be support and, the more one sees the spaces occupied by similar ones, the more motivation will be present in women’s decisions.

In summary, although there are still gaps of prejudice and inequality caused by patriarchy, female students and doctors are managing to overcome them through the daily struggle to deconstruct these barriers and to ensure that the female presence in the profession continues on the rise.



COPO ESTÁ MEIO VAZIO OU MEIO CHEIO?. Brazilian blog of cardiovascular

surgery,14 de Outubro. 2016.

About the author

Ádrya Natálya Chaves Ribeiro da Silva and Isabella Batista Souza Lessa are 2nd year medical students at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos (UNICEPLAC), in Brazil. Isabella is Local Director of Human Rights and Peace (LORP-D) and Ádrya is Local Coordinator of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). Both are engaged in issues related to women’s empowerment and the search for gender equity.

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