Transposing gender inequalities: the expenditure of achievements

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Beatriz Camargo Gazzi and Ms. Evelin Leonara Dias da Silva, currently third year medical students at the Faculdade de Medicina de Taubaté (Taubaté / São Paulo, 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.

In 1887 the first woman, Rita Lobato, received her diploma in medicine in Brazil, after defending her graduation thesis entitled “Parallels between the methods recommended in caesarean surgery”. Since then, the participation of women in medicine has grown exponentially, and a female predominance among newly registered professionals has been observed as of 2009.

However, this process is characterised by a series of problems arising from the requirements imposed and accepted for this purpose, whose repercussions, both individually and collectively, impact on women’s health. Intrinsically, work relations are mirrored in social constructions, based on power structures, giving the professional environment singularities consistent with the transposition of the logic of oppression.

The medical field, typically marked by hierarchies, whether explicit or not, allows the identification of this phenomenon. This in several spheres, such as the choice of the specialties, in the financial gain and, predominantly, in the gender distinctions, still stereotyped. Thus, the necessity to problematize aspects inherent to the daily life of doctors and medical students is evidenced.

Since the lack of overcoming these obstacles, generally associated to a double working day, and a series of demands, both professional and personal and cultural, coming from a social construction, makes the search for excellence to be exorbitant. This has a direct impact on women’s health, both in physical and psychological aspects. Studies carried out in the last decade, in the field of occupational medicine, show the consequences of this behaviour on women’s health.

The incidence of cardiovascular accidents amongst female doctors is growing, associated with an increase in the number of anxiety and depression crises experienced by these professionals, accompanied of alcoholsism and consumption of narcotics and stimulant drugs. However, it is worth mentioning the patent generalized unawareness about the effects of work on women’s health.

This is because studies on female workers are restricted to reproductive aspects, guided by the undoubted principle of the desire for maternity. In this manner, all legislation protecting women is centred on this aspect, restricting them to the condition of being mothers, to the detriment of other interests and requirements.

One of the neglected aspects is precisely the professional ambition, associated with the growing conquest of prominent positions. Thus, in the herculean attempt to overcome the gender disparities, women submit themselves to exhaustive routines, as hostages of external pressures, guided by the ephemeral belief of supplying their own expectations and obstacles.

This is the description of the Wonder Woman Syndrome, which routinely afflicts modern women. Therefore, the conceptualization of this phenomenon becomes each time more pertinent, as well as its reverberations, in individual and collective spheres.

This is so because the insertion of women in the medical field demands a bioethical and behavioral review. This phenomenon highlights the current power structure, as well as the asymmetries arising from the process of socialization between genders, reproduced in the professional environment.

About the author

Beatriz Camargo Gazzi and Evelin Leonara Dias da Silva are currently third year medical students at the Faculdade de Medicina de Taubaté (Taubaté / São Paulo, Brazil). They are members of the International Federation of Medical Student Associations of Brazil (IFMSA-BRASIL). Both strongly believe in gaining places of speech, either in medicine or in other spheres, propitiating the debate of pertinent themes and the conquest of more egalitarian means.

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