Women Leadership: Paths to a Humanized Medicine

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Letícia Teixeira Pinheiro Guerra, a five year Medical Student at Centro Universitário Ingá (UNINGÁ), Maringá- PR, 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.

For the World Health Organization (WHO), 70% of health professionals are women, however, only 25% are in leadership positions. An example of the gap between women’s workforce in the realm and their role of command is the fact that men command 69% of world health organizations. Moreover, for this report, the process of leveling between genders varies with the states’ level of development. In the Brazilian case, one knows that women are the majority in medical universities; as the census made by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) in 2010 shows, the relation of students was 96 men for 100 women. 

In the context of the United Nations, the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) highlight the necessity of reaching a world equal, peaceful and healthy. Within this framework, the event “Women Rise for All” was realized by the UN, in order to debate women’s leadership and the new challenges in regard of sanitary and socioeconomically issues due to the COVID19 pandemic. The development of a society equal and open, for the event, would be made by a major participation of women in positions of command. 

The benefits of women’s participation in roles of leadership have effects that could be felled in all the society. As the WHO shows, women expand the health agenda, strengthening the system as a whole. The presented characteristics in women are a fundamental reason for the disruption in practices of the sector. What Brazilian often call “feminine look”, in medicine, is linked to women’s capacity of comprehending the sorrows of the patient and being aware of better approaches to address a case. As they ascend to leadership positions, women could apply their skills of humanized administration in the health systems in general, elevating the productivity of all workforce, regardless the gender, and the efficiency of the health system, for differences between men and women elevate the quality of the work. These differences, once recognized instead of suppressed, are gains for the human patrimony of the health system. 

A better representation of women in highlighted posts can have a virtuous effect on the next generations. The leadership of a woman can be a model to feminine young students and physicians, contributing to overcoming the administration logic. An example of feminine leadership currently is the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dominican Clarissa F. Etienne. Her efforts to coordinate initiatives in order to overcome COVID19 demand a more comprehensive participation of women in the conduction of national health institutes. For her: “We need more women not only in front lines, but also in the leadership”. Therefore, a feminine leader in medicine not only aggregates value to the work of the health realm, but also evokes a transformation in the way of women addressing their role in society. 


SCHEFFER, Mário César; CASSENOTE, Alex Jones Flores. A feminização da medicina no Brasil. Revista Bioética, v. 21, n. 2, p. 268-277, 2013.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION et al. Delivered by women, led by men: A gender and equity analysis of the global health and social workforce. 2019.





About the author

Letícia Teixeira Pinheiro Guerra is a five year Medical Student at Centro Universitário Ingá (UNINGÁ), Maringá- PR, Brazil.  She is a member of IFMSA BRAZIL through the local UNINGÁ committee since 2020. She highlights that leaders of excellence are models to the society, in order to make it believe that it can reach its goals and, therefore, it contributes to the development of a fairer world.

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