Female representation is a weapon against patriarchal prejudice

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Ádrya Natálya Chaves Ribeiro da Silva and Letycia Fernandes de Godoy are second year medical students currently studying at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos 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.

Women’s leadership in medicine grows as female representation is more valued by women themselves, considering that the social environment, in which interactions are established, determines symbolic representations and exerts influence on individual behavior. Although there are currently more female faces in the undergraduate and professional fields, they are still seen as questionable professionals, since the positioning of women in a leadership role is devalued and negatively judged. It is a fact that medicine still has a gender gap caused by the prejudice of female insertion in certain positions, however, women are increasingly inspired and worthy of running after their goals without the difference being bigger than their desires of insertion in the field of action. 

In the first analysis, it is noticeable the constant struggle of women to conquer spaces in some specialties and leadership in multidisciplinary teams. Pierre Bourdieu, in his book “Male Domination”, analyzes that areas in which women show great interest suffer a devaluation because they do not attract male professional eyes, being labeled as “feminized” areas. In the medical environment, there is a belief that women are not interested in leadership positions or do not have the skills for it because they believe that there is low productivity linked to hormonal fluctuations, so when they exercise these functions, they are stereotyped as arrogant or overbearing, considering that the patriarchal society was taught to see women in inferior positions to men. 

On the other hand, even though there is still prejudice in the insertion of women in management positions, the gender gap in medicine is getting smaller, as a result of the increase of female representation in these positions. As an example, the admirable Angelita Habr-Gama, one of the most renowned Brazilian surgeons and the first woman to become a member of the American Surgical Association, became the founder and president of the Brazilian Association for the Prevention of Bowel Cancer. Another great example is the pediatrician and founder of the Pastoral da Criança, Zilda Arns, who helped the country to reduce the infant mortality rate, with the elaboration of the “homemade serum”. Thus, together with thousands of other women who have risen in their careers, they inspire students and doctors to want to progress and reach their goals.

With this, it is clear that even during graduation there are still deep-rooted gaps that hinder the professional development of women, with the female underachievement being observed in some areas or compacting for female acceptance in authoritarian positions. Furthermore, the reality of the scenario of female doctors in high positions is changing, due to their efforts to acquire spaces or reinforce those already conquered, proving that they are managing to close this gap, through the inspiration of great female names.

About the authors

Ádrya Natálya Chaves Ribeiro da Silva and Letycia Fernandes de Godoy are second year medical students currently studying at the Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Apparecido dos Santos in Brazil. They are local coordinators of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. They are constantly discussing gender equality issues and updating themselves on women’s empowerment.

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  1. Good post. Women in medicine are changing the way that people view their profession. This change could not come at a better time- as we need all hands on deck for the global health crisis that looms ahead of us! Please visit my blog, https://www.oilway-valves.com/

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