Female leaders in medicine: The wait is over

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Anja Božić, a 5th year medical student from Zagreb, Croatia. She is 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


“If society will not admit of woman’s free development, then society must be remodeled.” These were the words of Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to get a medical degree in America in 1849 (1). The enthusiasm that continued to grow among women who were eager to practice medicine resulted in Enabling Act in England, in 1876. It accepted both male and female to practice medicine as doctors (2).

Almost 150 years after this breakthrough, situation is unquestionably different and surely prosperous. In 2019, 50.5% of all medical students in America were women. This development is likewise noticeable in Europe, Canada and the Middle East with statistics showing that women make 75% of physicians in some European countries (3).
In spite of this, women are constantly behind and lessened when it comes to succeeding academic promotion, taking leadership positions or receiving research funding. For instance, female made up only 18% of all department chairs in 2018 in the USA (4).

How is it possible that circumstance for women in medicine can simultaneously be thriving and yet so frustrating?

Authority and leadership in medicine is typically reckoned as agentic, implying on characteristics such as dominant, confident, assertive and decisive. The problem arises when female doctors, for instance on consultant level, display these traits. A lot of people find it off-putting and perceive it with a refusal since they didn’t demonstrate so called gender-congruent attributes, i.e. warm, caring, friendly or considerate. Contradictory, when meeting this requests, they are distinguished as unsuccessful leaders. This is called female “double bind” (5). Moreover, in an international survey of 11 781 anesthesiologists from 2020, 34,6% of women and only 4.7% of men agreed with the statement “My gender is a disadvantage when competing for a leadership position in my department.” (6)

When looking at this data, one cannot be indifferent and simply look as this “leaky pipe” continuously interferes with women’s aspirations. As if making decisions that potentially affect larger group of people isn’t nerve-racking enough for everyone, gender-bias and balancing conventional expectations come as additional obstacle for women. Not only does this diminish female abilities, but affects their financial, social and physical parts of life.

At least medicine as science should remind us of one basic point and that is the meaning of proven facts. What more talks about someone’s success, achievement and professional values than its work results. No gender should ever get in a way with it.

Shutting one eye to reality can lead to short-term problem avoidance, but can it bring long standing success?
One thing is for sure, society is not using 100% of its values and the remaining are called FEMALE.
 

References


1.    https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/elizabeth-blackwell

2.         Mend the Gap: The Independent Review into Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine in England – December 2020. :373.
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/944246/Gender_pay_gap_in_medicine_review.pdf

3.              Al-Busaidi IS, Sharif K, Hassan A. Gender, Geographic, and Socioeconomic Representation in Medical Student Journals: A Cross-Sectional Analysis. Published online 2021:6.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7899283/pdf/cureus-0013-00000012838.pdf

4.   https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/data/2018-2019-state-women-academic-medicine-     exploring-pathways-equity

5.         Critchley J, Schwarz M, Baruah R. The female medical workforce. Anaesthesia. 2021;76(S4):14-23. doi:10.1111/anae.15359
https://associationofanaesthetists-publications.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/anae.15359

6.         Zdravkovic M, Osinova D, Brull SJ, et al. Perceptions of gender equity in departmental leadership, research opportunities, and clinical work attitudes: an international survey of 11 781 anaesthesiologists. Br J Anaesth. 2020;124(3):e160-e170. doi:10.1016/j.bja.2019.12.022
https://bjanaesthesia.org/action/showPdf?pii=S0007-0912%2819%2931008-6

About the author

Anja Božić is a 5th year medical student from Zagreb, Croatia. Currently, she is working as Local Officer on Research Exchange in CroMSIC, member of IFMSA. She is a passionate nature lover, always wishing to overcome boundaries and engage in new extracurricular activities. One thing she believes the most is that working on yourself is a lifetime project.

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 and China to do more in common if the global scene gets worse

Click and Download: your app is ready to help you save lives

WHO reports ‘very strong progress’ in battling DR Congo Ebola outbreak

New Eurobarometer survey shows: The majority of Europeans think the EU should propose additional measures to address air quality problems

Public Health equality in a trench

10 ways cities are tackling the global affordable housing crisis

Germany tries to save Europe from war between Ukraine and Russia

Long-term EU budget: It is not possible to do more with less, say MEPs

UN chief saddened at news of death of former US President George H.W. Bush

End discrimination against women and children affected by leprosy

Drought in southern Africa: EU releases over €22 million in humanitarian aid

These tech start-ups are changing what it means to farm

Attack on Saudi facilities risks dragging Yemen into ‘regional conflagration’: UN Envoy

Celebrating the Customs Union: the world’s largest trading bloc turns 50

How to outsmart bias when you’re recruiting

Primary Healthcare vs Specialization Careers, how to promote PHC to the Young Health Workforce?

Haitian Foreign Minister calls for development reboot to close ‘striking gap’ between promises and action on ending poverty

This is how drones and other ‘tradetech’ are transforming international trade

European Democracy Action Plan: making EU democracies stronger

Why we need a blockchain bill of rights

Prospect of a nuclear war ‘higher than it has been in generations’, warns UN

Antitrust: Commission imposes binding obligations on Gazprom to enable free flow of gas at competitive prices in Central and Eastern European gas markets

How 3 MENA business leaders are building resilient companies post-COVID-19

Thousands of health professionals call on world leaders to prioritize a greener future, post-pandemic

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

COVID vaccination campaign. What are the challenges?

Greece bailout ends but with no substantial effect on citizens’ life

1 million citizens try to create a new EU institution

What the next 20 years will mean for jobs – and how to prepare

Statement by Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, on the announcement to postpone the COP26

EU and US take decisive step to end aircraft dispute

How COVID-19 is making companies act for the long term

We need tech solutions that value human interaction more than ever

Grievous violations continue against Myanmar civilians, Human Rights Council hears

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

Guterres lauds UN peacekeeping, highlights need to bridge ‘critical’ gaps

How cities are failing to be inclusive – and what they can do about it

We must stop turning a blind eye to the world’s health crises

London wants to treat violent crime like a disease

Cybersecurity Act: build trust in digital technologies

MasterCard @ MWC14: Innovation in times of regulatory uncertainty

The digital revolution will transform the steel industry

‘Protracted crisis’ in Venezuela leads to ‘alarming escalation of tensions’: UN political chief

From battlefields to boardrooms: 3 steps to building high-morale teams

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

African cooperation on peace ‘increasingly strong’, Security Council told

European Green Deal: Commission presents actions to boost organic production

State aid: Commission approves €790 million Croatian guarantee scheme for companies with export activities affected by coronavirus outbreak

How COVID-19 might help us win the fight against climate change

Civilians suffering due to sanctions must be spared ‘collective punishment’ urges UN rights expert

5 urgent actions in the fightback against ransomware

The UN came of age with the nuclear bomb. Time for it to step up to the AI era

How can we prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? 5 lessons from innovative schools around the world

How digital identity can improve lives in a post-COVID-19 world

How we measure stakeholder capitalism will determine our recovery

Commission disburses €14.1 billion under SURE to 12 Member States

How distorted is the EU labour market by this crisis?

UN study projects $32 billion loss for UK post no-deal Brexit

One for all? Are physicians prepared to deliver care to the LGBTQIA+ community?

Trade surplus up production down in Eurozone

More Stings?

Trackbacks

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