From Graduation to professional career: has medicine, in Brazil, become more feminist?

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Lígia Fonseca Orlando and Ms. Marina Telles Peramos, two Brazilian fourth year medical student at Faculdade de Medicina de São José do Rio Preto. 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 writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


According to data from the brazilian Federal Council of Medicine (CFM), in the last 20 years, the number of women who practice medicine in Brazil has doubled. Despite this fact, a question arises: has medicine become more feminist in Brazil?

To begin the discussion, we must establish concepts and differentiate a more feminine medicine from feminist medicine. The first refers to a situation of more women graduating as doctors and exercising their profession, which is in fact what has been happening in Brazil according to the data previously showed. The second term, feminist medicine, refers to a situation of equality and equity between men and women doctors, which doesn’t happen nowadays.

Once the terms are correctly defined, it’s necessary to question what needs to be done to make medicine more feminist, therefore, more equal for all. The answers to this can be found through structural changes that involve both: graduation and the working environment of women.

Within the scope of graduation, students are used to have male professors and department heads, against a lack of female examples to be followed. In addition, for all over extracurricular activities in the graduation, such as participation in sports teams or in student institutions, there is, once again, the prevalence and celebration of male figures in spite of female ones.

About the sports, it is not new that society associates this with male practices, while female teams are discredited and followed by a lack of support. This situation is no different in university sports in medical schools. Because of these gender treatment differences, when experiencing things like that during graduation, girls students, future doctors, are tasting, from an early age, the discredit that they may have throughout their professional journey.

Despite all this and other difficulties imposed by male chauvinism during graduation, the vast majority of girls students do not give up  until they achieve their dreamed University Degree and start a new stage in their careers. From that point on, current non-feminist medicine often imposes new challenges on female doctors, like situations as submission to misogynistic bosses or even unequal wages when compared to the wage of a man who performs the same function.

In addition, in the professional field, female doctors, unfortunately, still need to deal with situations in which their skills and competences are questioned, like when patients, or even members of their own work team, doubt their title of specialist in some subject. This can be seen in all different areas of medicine, but mainly in those that are still seen as “more masculine” such as surgery for example.

Thereby, it follows that, despite Brazil having increasingly feminine medicine, we still need to deal with a situation of great inequality that is not always remembered and discussed by the society. So, the struggle to eliminate the gender gap must be constant.

The empowerment of women in medicine is a necessary path for the humanization of practices and knowledge. Female faces and names must be increasingly present and respected.

References

  1. Conselho Federal de Medicina [homepage na internet]. Em 20 anos, dobra o número de mulheres que exercem medicina no Brasil, 08/12/2020 [acesso em 23 mar 2021]. Disponível em: https://portal.cfm.org.br/noticias/em-20-anos-dobra-o-numero-de-mulheres-que-exercem-a-medicina-no-brasil/#:~:text=%C3%89%20o%20que%20mostram%20os,mulheres%2C%2046%2C6%25.
  2. Boesveld S. What’s driving the gender pay gap in medicine?. CMAJ. 2020;192(1):E19-E20. doi:10.1503/cmaj.1095831
  3. Tamashiro, L. I., & Galatti, L. R. Preconceito de gênero: percepções no futsal feminino universitário.

About the authors

Lígia Fonseca Orlando is a brazilian fourth year medical student at Faculdade de Medicina de São José do Rio Preto. She is a member of IFMSA Brazil FAMERP, ex LPO-D and LEO/LORE. She is the current secretary at the academic athletic association of her university.

Marina Telles Peramos is a brazilian fourth year medical student, at Faculdade de Medicina de São José do Rio Preto. She is vice-president at the academic athletic association of her university, and class representative for the past 3 years.

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