The historic female struggle in medicine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Caroline Ayumi Waricoda Horaguti, a 24 years old medical student at Cesumar University, Brasil. 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.


The role of women throughout history has gone through different phases, serving for years only for reproduction, breastfeeding and raising children. Due to the submission to male authority, women believed for a long time that they could only fulfill the role of mother and educator of their children. However, the fight against the imposition of tasks and postures has been going on since the Middle Ages, with the occurrence of the “Witch Hunt”, the genocide against women who acted against the “traditional” way, challenging a system that revolved around the needs of the men.

After World War I and II, the introduction of women into the labor market began due to the need to assume the financial support of the home and positions in the labor market while men went to battle. Even inserted in this sphere, women had not achieved the same rights as men, being subjected to miserable conditions, unequal pay and still being forced to deal with double working hours, as the functions of the house and the children continued as their responsibility.

The presence of women in the field of medicine takes place since the Middle Ages through medicinal practices, calling them healers. Until the 12th century, women worked mostly as a midwife, and it was a privilege of men to graduate in Medicine. With the emergence of the feminist movement in Germany in 1899, some colleges allowed women to enroll in the course, however, only in the 1960s and 1970s, social and political movements boosted the presence of women in public universities.

The fight for gender equality in the field of medicine continues until nowadays. After a long period of predominance of men, the growth in the number of women in the area is evident, however, sexism in medicine is still present and needs to be deconstructed. Even during graduation, it is not uncommon for women medical students to be challenged daily to prove their knowledge alongside men who do not need the same effort. When choosing a specialty, women are questioned when choosing surgical areas and not pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, for example, because the breaking of paradigms deconstructs a fragile and delicate woman’s imagery, a daily struggle for all women.

Even after countless advances, it is possible to see a long way to go. The struggle for equal pay, respect and recognition is still present, however, with more support from society. Today, the expressive presence of women in increasingly diverse positions and functions reaffirms their delimitation of space in the community. Such achievements should be celebrated daily, but even so, the struggle and awareness of the rights that we still have to acquire should not be forgotten but used as a fuel in the search for gender equality in Medicine.

About the author

Caroline Ayumi Waricoda Horaguti is 24 years old and a medical student at Cesumar University. She is a member of IFMSA Brasil Unicesumar, the Academic League of Medical Semiology of Maringá (LASEMM) and the Academic League of Family and Community Medicine (LAMFaC)

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