Women in leadership: closing the gender gap in medicine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Camila Medranda, a third-year medical student at “Facultad Ciencias de la Salud Eugenio Espejo” of Equinoctial University of Technology (UTE), Quito, Ecuador. 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.


“Women are ultimately the key to development” Desmond Tutu

If we go back in time, we will find stories of women who have influenced the development of medicine.

Women who dared to take the first steps: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Britain’s first female doctor, Matilde Hidalgo Ecuadorian´s first female doctor, Anandi Gopal Joshi first Indian female doctors, Fe Villanueva del Mundo the first female student at Harvard Medical School who do pioneering work on infectious diseases including dengue, or Anne Szarewski one of the first to develop an understanding of the link between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, leading to the first-ever HPV vaccine. 1, 2, 3

Women awarded for their discoveries as Rosalyn Yalow (1977) for development of radioimmunoassay of peptide hormones and prove that type 2 diabetes is caused by the body’s inefficient use of insulin; Gertrude Elion (1988) for a new, more rational approach to drug development for the treatment of various diseases (leukemia, herpes, malaria, gout, AIDS); Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (2008) for the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus; Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Carol W. Greider (2009) for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase; Tu Youyou (2015) for her discoveries concerning a novel therapy against Malaria and Jennifer Doudna (2020) for the development of a method for genome editing, which opens the investigation of innovative treatments for diseases with high prevalence today, such as cancer. 4, 5

And many more women around the world who contribute to science, women who deserve to be seen and who in their struggle make their way to recognition.

In a current context women account for 70% of the health and social care workforce providing care to around 5 billion people. 6

However, despite the different achievements of women in medicine, according to statistical data presented by the World Health Organization in 2019, the reality of the working world shows something different, global health is predominantly led by men, 69% of global health organizations are headed by men and 80% of board chairs are men. Only 25% of women occupy hold leadership positions in health.6 Why?

The debatable idea that people should perform certain functions according to their gender have has been presented as a systemic barrier for women to advance in different professional careers worldwide, including health´s areas 6, resulting in a gender gap that does not it should exist because the role in society should be based on equal rights as professionals, equity and the absence of discrimination.

Women’s leadership is their power to inspire people and challenge the world to make a change. It comes from the strength that past generations have awakened in them to overcome social stereotypes that relate gender to professional ability.

Advancing women’s leadership does not stop and although still a long way to go, along with the development of a more equitable society, the objectives in this area will be met.  “Women have a really important role to play in the Word” Jennifer Doudna.

References

  1. World Health Organization. 2019. “Celebrating Women Leaders In Science And Health”. Who.Int. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/celebrating-women-leaders-in-science-and-health.
  2. Ministerio Salud Pública Ecuador. 2019. “Matilde Hidalgo Abrió Las Puertas De Una Sociedad Equitativa En Ecuador – Ministerio De Salud Pública”. Salud.Gob.Ec. https://www.salud.gob.ec/matilde-hidalgo-abrio-las-puertas-de-una-sociedad-equitativa-en-ecuador/.
  3. Gulland, A. (2013). Anne Szarewski [pdf] (p. 26). Retrieved 19 March 2021, from https://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f5890.
  4. “The Nobel Prize | Women Who Changed Science”. 2021. Nobelprize.Org. Accessed March 19. https://www.nobelprize.org/womenwhochangedscience/stories.
  5. Xing, H., & Meng, L. (2019). CRISPR-cas9: a powerful tool towards precision medicine in cancer treatment [pdf]. Retrieved 19 March 2021, from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41401-019-0322-9.
  6. Human Resources for Health Observer. (2019). Delivered by Women, Led by Men: A Gender and Equity Analysis of the Global Health and Social Workforce [pdf] (pp. 3, 5, 21). Retrieved 19 March 2021, from https://www.who.int/hrh/resources/health-observer24/en/.

About the author

Camila Medranda is third- year medical student at “Facultad Ciencias de la Salud Eugenio Espejo” of Equinoctial University of Technology (UTE), Quito, Ecuador. She is an active member of AEMPPI UTE. She did volunteer internships in “Centro de Investigación Genética y Genómica” (CIGG) of the University UTE. She is part of the scientific disclosure page Nova Scientia on Facebook. She was the author of the Article “Astigmatismo ¿Cómo nos afecta? A propósito de un caso ” in the magazine SPECTRUM- Cuenca in 2019.

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?

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