Women that inspire women

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gabriella Caroline Andrioni, a twenty-year-old woman and a third-year medical student at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), in the interior of Brazil. 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 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations bring Gender Equality as one of the main needs for 2030. In the health field, changes have already been seen by what is called “feminization of medicine”. The medical background has undergone a transition in the last decade, and the number of trained female doctors has almost surpassed the male doctors in some areas. The distribution of women is higher among the younger group, showing a future of more egalitarian positions in medicine (1,2,3). Although this process of feminization is a pass into equality, it also brings to discussion gender inequalities that still remain within the medical environment.

Women are approximately 75% of participation in the health workforce, but still represent lower cadres (4). They are a minority in leadership positions and only a quarter of ministers of health are women. This takes a more important place in Brazil, where there have already been four men in the role of health minister during the pandemic and women represent more than 65% of the front line in the combat against Covid-19 (5).

Women are also less present in training specialties, like the surgical ones. While the first option of recently graduated women for medical residency is pediatrics, the first option for men is general surgery, evidencing the gender pay gap (2). The same division in knowledge is found in medical science. Less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women and we are 45% in Latin America (6).

Gender equality has the potential to lead to substantial health, social and economic gains. Gender diverse workplaces have improved productivity, decision making and satisfaction and women in the medical workforce might improve patient outcomes. There is emerging evidence of differences in the way female doctors practice, leading to lower patient morbidity and mortality (6). And the changes caused by the decrease in the gender gap in medicine goes above the health field. The representation of women in the most diverse places, including leadership positions, inspire the young women who haven’t a defined future yet.

There is a long way ahead and structural changes have to be made. Beyond gender equality in medicine, we must strive for a social and cultural transformation that allows the growth of women around the world and in every environment. Sustainable development needs this.

About the author

Gabriella Caroline Andrioni is a twenty-year-old woman and a third-year medical student at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT), in the interior of Brazil. She takes part in IFMSA Brazil and is the National Coordinator of the Non-Discriminatory Access to Health Program. She is made of curiosity and touched by the sensibility in the social relations. Because of this, participates in every university extension she can find and still takes time to do research between the classes. She believes in a universal, free and quality health system and is searching for it.

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