Gender inequities in the medical field, an urgent issue

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. María Teresa Ferri, a third-year medical student from Ecuador, she works with the local medical student’s association in the education committee. 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.


Try to explain this: “a father and son are in a horrible car crash that kills the dad. The son is rushed to the hospital; just as he’s about to go under the knife, the surgeon says, “I can’t operate—that boy is my son!” (1)

When this experiment was done in 197 psychology students in Boston University and in 103 children between 7 and 17 years, only 14 and 15% of them, respectively, answered that the mother was the surgeon (1). Does this statistic tell you something?

Here is another one, according to a survey directed by Medscape in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Brazil, and Mexico; the gender pay gap is around 20-29% (2). Any guessing of which group is being underpaid?

Women around the world, are constantly facing inequities in their work environment because of their gender. It has been demonstrated that women are more severely judged when making ethical mistakes. This was proven by a quick experiment on which a group of people were asked to judge a hospital administrator who committed an unethical action; it turned out that if the person had a male name, the sentence was 80 days and if the person had a female name, the sentence was 130 days (2). It is also important to mention, the fact that as job positions hierarchy are higher, the percentage of women in charge drops. In 2014 the AAMC reported that 46% of residents were females, while only 21% were professors and only 16% deans (3). Another aspect worth mentioning is what Dr. Nancy Baxter, a colorectal surgeon in Toronto recalls. She says that women are more likely to receive simple and lower-paid procedures if compared to men, who tend to receive complex procedures that not only make them earn more money but also respect (2). She also mentions that women tend to be more patient when dealing with certain cases who need extra time; therefore, these cases are often referred to them (2). The problem here is that women are not compensated for the extra time because payment is based on the patient, not by time.

Operation Smile, a nonprofit medical organization that provides safe surgeries to children with cleft lip or cleft palate all around the world, performed its first international medical mission with only women personnel. This mission took part in Oujda, Morocco, where around 50 medical volunteers provided 130 surgeries for the children in need. At the end of the mission, some interesting conclusions were obtained; 73% of the women who could not find a mentor in their country, found one in the mission and 100% were inspired to mentor women in their country (4). The simplicity of having a safe working environment where they feel supported and equal, inspired these women to not only continue to grow professionally but also to help other women grow as well.

Do you know when do we expect to close the gender wage gap in the United States? In the year 2059 (5). It is time to change this reality, it’s time for women.

References

1.        Barlow R. BU Research: A Riddle Reveals Depth of Gender Bias. [Internet]. Boston University. 2014. Available from: http://www.bu.edu/articles/2014/bu-research-riddle-reveals-the-depth-of-gender-bias/

2.        Boesveld S. What’s driving the gender pay gap in medicine? Vol. 192, CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale  canadienne. 2020. p. E19–20.

3.        Allen RM. Gender Inequality in Medicine: Too Much Evidence to Ignore. Psychiatric Times. 2017;

4.        Munabi DN. Going Far Together: A Future for Women in Health Care Around the World. Operation Smile. 2020.

5.        Donner F, Goldberg E. In 25 Years, the Pay Gap Has Shrunk by Just 8 Cents. The New York Times [Internet]. 2021; Available from: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/24/us/equal-pay-day-explainer.html

About the author

María Teresa Ferri is a third-year medical student from Ecuador, she works with the local medical student’s association in the education committee. She has been a volunteer at Operation Smile for 9 years and is currently representing Ecuador on Student Program’s Latin American leadership team. She has been in the two International Leadership Conferences for Students (Italy and Paraguay). Her long-term aspiration is to be part of the medical Operation Smile staff; and to work with other non-profit organizations helping people in need. She also wants to keep growing in the medical field and keep educating and working on human rights issues as well. 

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

Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress

Any doubt?

From funders to partners: elevating community expertise to help communities thrive

German opposition win in Lower Saxony felt all over Europe

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

Yemen consultations have started, insists top UN negotiator

Commission approves emergency measures to protect eastern Baltic cod

How data can help mining companies tackle their trust deficit

From drought to floods in Somalia; displacement and hunger worsen, says UN

From raised fists at the 1968 Olympics to taking the knee: A history of racial justice protests in sport

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

This is how travel hotspots are fighting back against overtourism

Do all you can to resolve climate change ‘sticking points’ UN chief urges South-East Asian leaders, in Bali

Four lessons from Africa on building effective business ecosystems

Australian homes are turning to solar power in record numbers

European research priorities for 2021-2027 agreed with member states

Meeting the basic needs of our healthcare workers

Mental health: a medical school’s demand

Embracing the diversity in a multicultural city of Romania

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

How the power of sport can bring us together and drive social justice

EU Blue Card: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for highly skilled migrant workers

Why building consumer trust is the key to unlocking AI’s true potential

Ukraine’s new political order not accepted in Crimea

Protecting European consumers: toys and cars on top of the list of dangerous products

This is how New York plans to end its car culture

Progress against torture in Afghan detention centres, but Government needs to do more, says UN report

European Citizens’ Initiative: Commission registers ‘Mandatory food labelling Non-Vegetarian / Vegetarian / Vegan’ initiative’

Is South Korea set to lose from its FTA with the EU?

Anti-vaccers: does the empty can rattle the most?

The role of public affairs in student NGOs

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

Latin America’s cities are ready to take off. But their infrastructure is failing them

Political power of women suffering ‘serious regression’, General Assembly President warns

7 top things to know about coronavirus today

How global trade can save lives and livelihoods – and help protect the planet

EU job-search aid worth €9.9 million for 1,858 former Air France workers

European Semester 2018 Spring Package: Commission issues recommendations for Member States to achieve sustainable, inclusive and long-term growth

COVID-19: Save European culture and values, MEPs tell Commission

Children suffering ‘atrocities’ as number of countries in conflict hits new peak: UNICEF

We need to rethink ESG to ensure access to water and sanitation for all

International Court of Justice orders Pakistan to review death penalty for Indian accused of spying

Rise in violent conflict shows prevention ‘more necessary than ever’: UN chief

Top UN political official updates Security Council on Iran nuclear deal

It’s not summer holidays what lead to the bad August of the German economy

How can the world end viral hepatitis by 2030? 5 experts explain

How to talk about climate change: 5 tips from the front lines

Failure to open accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia is a mistake

Myanmar doing too little to ensure displaced Rohingya return: UN refugee agency chief

Further reforms in Sweden can drive growth, competitiveness and social cohesion

EU-UK relations: solutions found to help implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

Statistics show the ugly face of youth training schemes

Croatian Presidency outlines priorities to EP committees

Media and entertainment in flux: it’s time for the close-up

5 droughts that changed human history

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

European Youth, quo vadis?

China is the first non-EU country to invest in Europe’s €315 billion Plan

EU institutions agree on priorities for coming years: A common agenda for our recovery and renewed vitality

Coronavirus Global Response: EIB and Commission pledge additional €4.9 billion

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