Women in leadership: eliminating the gender gap in medicine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rafaela Carvalho Granero, a second-year medical student at the Barretos School of Health Sciences Dr. Paulo Prata, campus in Barretos, SP – 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.

In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the only difference between woman and man is that the first is an adult female person (1) while the second is an adult male human (1). However, in the last centuries, women were continually submitted to men and seen as unable to do science, as if the difference between them was in the intelligence, not only in biological characteristics. Fortunately, thanks to greats efforts, this is changing and the ladies are taking the leadership on several situations, including medicine.

Rosalyn Yalow (1921-2011), an american medical physicist that received the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine, in 1977, for the development of the radioimmunoassays (RIA) technique, used to scan blood donations for infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis (2), is an example that women can and should always do science, that they are doing the best of them everyday to improve everyone’s health.

In addition, after the analysis of 104 countries about the gender equity in the health workforce, some numbers indicates that women are leading several departments. Seventy percent of workers in the health and social sector are from the female sex (3), beside women´s representation in the most highly paid health occupations has been improving steadily since 2000 (3).

When this scenario is observed, there is no doubt that ladies are capable of doing anything they want to, that the only difference between women and men are the biological characteristics, and that everyone has the right to make science and improve people’s health. Furthermore, great female names in medicine and the number of them in health workforce shows that we have come a long way, and we still have a long way to go, but we will make it, as Dr. Margaret Chan promissed in the final of her speech in 100th international women´s day (4).


  1. Meriam dictionary – Mirriam-Webster. In Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. Mirriam-Webster. 2015. 
  2. The 10 most influential women in the history of medicine [Internet]. Proclinical: Peter Hogg; 2020 Mar 08. The 10 most influential women in the history of medicine; [cited 2021 Mar 24].
  3. WHO – Boniol M, McIsaac M, Xu L, Wuliji T, Diallo K, Campbell J. WHO | Gender equity in the health workforce: Analysis of 104 countries. World Health Organization. 2019.
  4. Dr. Margaret Chan’s speech: 100th International Women’s Day [Internet]. Southeast Asia Tobaco Control Alliance; 2011 Mar 08. Dr. Margaret Chan’s speech: 100th International Women’s Day; [cited 2021 Mar 24].
  5. About the author
  6. Rafaela Carvalho Granero is a second-year medical student at the Barretos School of Health Sciences Dr. Paulo Prata, campus in Barretos, SP – Brazil. She is part of the International Exchange Board helping as a Local Exchange Officer at IFMSA Brazil FACISB. Medicine has been part of her entire life and what she likes most in this area is how it can help people in their hardest moments, that is exacty what she aspires: be someone who helps people.

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