Women in medical leadership: future perspectives of medicine

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nathalia Sbardellini Sidou Ponte, medical student of the third period, from UNICEPLAC- Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Aparecido dos Santos, 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 world is witnessing the progressive feminization of medicine in the face of the increasing predominance of women in the population and it requires an adequate cultural development to make sense of the new medical democratization. Along this path, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in the 2000s, women were already the majority among medical students in Brazil, the United States and Canada. Thus, such transformations contribute to the evolution of the medical profession, with positive consequences both in the quality of care and in the organization of health services.

On the other hand, there are still many vulnerabilities in the profession, because women tend to receive lower wages than men in similar positions. The presence of women in the professions, in the past, contradicted what was expected of a “family girl” and hurt what Simone de Beauvoir called in “The Second Sex”, the “destiny” of women, a work which she analyzes the female condition in the spheres sexual, psychological, social and political. Thus, in Brazilian culture, there is still a stigma that women doctors occupy basic specialties, such as Pediatrics and Gynaecology, to the detriment of surgical specialties. However, on International Women’s Day, the Facebook page Quebrando o Tabu published an image contrary to this thought, with the following riddle: “Father and son are in a car accident. Someone calls the ambulance, but the father cannot resist and dies on the spot. The son is rescued and taken to the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital, the most competent person in the operating room sees the boy and says: “I cannot operate on this boy! For he is my son”. Leaving many people puzzled, because with their father dead, who could that person be? Many readers thought that the character would be the boy’s grandfather or another father from a same-sex relationship. What they did not realize, however, was the most obvious: The most competent person in the operating room would be their mother. Consequently, reiterates the importance of women in relation to all medical specialties, as they are more easily adapted to the leadership of multidisciplinary health teams and respond better to situations that require a greater understanding of cultural and individual singularities.

Therefore, with the analysis of the notoriety of women in the teaching work in health, it is understood the importance of promoting historical changes that reshape the dominant patriarchy. Thus, it is essential to encourage gender equality and diversity in the teaching staff of the institutions, since the conduct and practices of female doctors can lead to better effectiveness of preventive actions and more adequately serve populations in contexts of vulnerability. In addition, the promotion of actions that encourage the quality of life of women is essential, for example, the Academy of Medical Sciences, in England, created a flexibility strategy for the training of women, called the Part-time married women’s training scheme, in which, through the granting of research grants, it helps to maintain research productivity even during the years of child-rearing.


  1. SCHEFFER, Mário César; CASSENOTE, Alex Jones Flores. The feminization of medicine in Brazil. Revista Bioética, v. 21, n. 2, p. 268-277. São Paulo, 2013. Available at: <https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?pid=S198380422013000200010&script=sci_arttext>. Accessed on: 20 mar. 2021.
  2. LEMKE, Viviana Guzzo. Gender Equity in Healthcare: An Issue of Justice or Need?. Brazilian Archives of Cardiology, Vol. 113, n. 2, p. 299-299, São Paulo, 2019. Available at: <https://www.scielo.br/pdf/abc/v113n2/pt_0066-782X-abc-113-02-0299.pdf>. Accessed on: 20 mar. 2021
  3. ÁVILA, Rebeca Contrera. Training of women in medical schools. Brazilian Journal of Medical Education, v. 38, n. 1, p. 142-149, Campinas, 2014. Available at:<https://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbem/v38n1/19.pdf>. Accessed on: 20 de mar. 2021
  4. About the author
  5. Nathalia Sbardellini Sidou Ponte, medical student of the third period, from UNICEPLAC- Centro Universitário do Planalto Central Aparecido dos Santos, a regular participant in IFMSA UNICEPLAC projects and academic leagues in General Surgery and Plastic Surgery. Dedicated to medicine, medical books and academic congresses. He is regularly in social projects in churches, public schools and hospitals to fulfill Primary Care and disease prevention in order to learn in practice everything that is portrayed in his studies and classroom.

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