Feminisation of medicine in Brazil

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rafaela Teixeira Honório, 4th year medical students at Barretos School of Health Sciences Dr. Paulo Prata (FACISB), Brazil. Rafaela is affiliated to 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

“One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949). Become a woman in a patriarchal society is very difficult, always seen as inferior to man, was born to breed, take care of the home and children; not that it makes them less women, but they want more than that. What they want is to become free, empowered and with a voice in society, owners and worthy of their choices.

In medicine, women’s struggles have always been intense and still continue so that they have their space and due recognition, since the medical field was known to be predominantly male. In Brazil, it was only after 1870 that women were able to attend higher education institutions and in the middle of 1879 the first woman entered a medical school(1)

According to the Brazilian Federal Council of Medicine (CFM), currently 46.6% of those enrolled in the council are women. Despite the significant increase in women in the medical field, there is still a struggle and gender inequality in the profession. The most notorious and hierarchical positions are still mainly occupied by men (2).

Since university, curricular structures are designed for men, excluding the female life cycle that has an important milestone for many women, motherhood. To achieve professional success, many women need to give up motherhood, especially at the beginning of their careers, as this is the ideal physiological period to be a mother. In addition to taking care of their children, women remain overwhelmed with domestic chores and are unable to reconcile or dedicate themselves entirely to the profession, as men do.

With the feminization of medicine, there is a preference for some clinical areas such as pediatrics, dermatology and gynecology. This can cause a deficits in some áreas, such as surgery, orthopedics and cardiology, which are mostly occupied by men (3). However, there is little incentive for residency programs to accept women for these areas, mainly due to social underestimation and female life cycle.

Prejudice rooted in patriarchal society gives women far more prestige to their aesthetic beauty than to their intellectual capacity. As a result, many women are humiliated and are not heard in their work environments, sometimes underestimated by the patients themselves, without having the same opportunities, they almost never occupy important positions within medicine, which discourages other women. Gender equality in medicine and women’s empowerment are necessary, and by making women heard and their skills recognized, they may be free to make personal choices such as getting married and having children without their choosing interfering with their career. We need women who are a reference for other women and who are thus strong and empowered in their careers and personal life!


1. Scheffer MC, Cassenote AJF. A feminização da medicina no Brasil. Rev Bioética. 2013;21. Steren dos Santos T. Gênero e carreira profissional na Medicina. In: MULHER E TRABALHO. Porto Alegre: Revista Estudos de Planejamento; 2004.

2. Steren dos Santos T. Gênero e carreira profissional na Medicina. In: MULHER E TRABALHO. Porto Alegre: Revista Estudos de Planejamento; 2004. Franco T, dos Santos EG. Mulheres e cirurgiãs. Rev Col Bras Cir. 2010;37(1).

3. Franco T, dos Santos EG. Mulheres e cirurgiãs. Rev Col Bras Cir. 2010;37.

About the author

Rafaela Honório is a fourth-year medical student at the Faculty of Health Sciences of Barretos DR. Paulo Prata-FACISB, Brazil. It is an affiliate of the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). She is part of the academic league of pneumology and sleep disorders, gynecology and obstetrics and cancerology. She wants to follow the clinical area of ​​medicine and believes that through humanized medicine we can put ourselves in the place of the other and see what causes pain and suffering, offering greater care than physiological and healing with empathy and compassion.

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

European Commission: the LED lights of your Audi A6 shall save our planet

A new approach to scaling-up renewable power in emerging markets

Ensure that widows are ‘not left out or left behind’, UN chief urges on International Day

COVID-19 wave III and the lessons learned

Threats from mammoth banks and Brussels fuel May’s poll rates

EU and Amazon cut deal to end antitrust investigation over e-books deals

MEPs urge EU countries to be transparent about their COVID-19 vaccine supplies

Here’s how private investors can turn plastic into gold

Still a long way to go to achieve gender equality in all EU countries

Africa is set to get its first vertical forest

‘Millions facing starvation’ – Global political and business leaders on the economic impact of COVID-19

How the gender commuting gap could be harming women’s careers

Will 2020 be the year blockchain overcomes its hype?

Progress in medical research: leading or lagging behind?

Bacteria vs. humans: how to fight in this world war?

The future of energy is being shaped in Asia

What we know and what we don’t know about universal basic income

The first new university in the UK for 40 years is taking a very different approach to education

OECD household income up 0.7% in first quarter of 2018, outpacing GDP growth

First seat projections for the next European Parliament

The energy industry is changing. Are governments switched on?

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

Re-thinking citizenship education: bringing young people back to the ballot box

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

What’s going on in Chernobyl today?

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Why are the Balkans’ political leaders meeting in Geneva this week?

Support for EU remains at historically high level despite sceptics

US pardons for accused war criminals, contrary to international law: UN rights office

European Business Summit 2015: In search of a vision for the future

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Migrants and refugees face higher risk of developing ill-health, says UN report on displaced people in Europe

Autumn 2019 Standard Eurobarometer: immigration and climate change remain main concerns at EU level

Stop the waste: UN food agencies call for action to reduce global hunger

The term AI overpromises. Let’s make machine learning work better for humans instead

How blended finance helped to keep energy supplies flowing during COVID-19

What will a post-pandemic economy look like? Here’s what chief economists expect

Innovation is the key to the pay-TV industry’s long-term growth

Mergers: Commission approves GlaxoSmithKline’s acquisition of Pfizer’s Consumer Health Business, subject to conditions

Coronavirus: Commission launches call for innovative response and recovery partnerships between EU regions

Parliament names radio studio after journalists murdered in December attack

4 things to know about the state of conflict today

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

As Houthi forces withdraw from key Yemeni ports, UN monitoring chief welcomes ‘first practical step on the ground’

Get out, stay out: how financial resilience helps end poverty

The ‘ASEAN way’: what it is, how it must change for the future

30 years of tissue engineering, what has been achieved?

Businesses are lacking moral leadership, according to employees

Mental health and suicide prevention

‘Perseverance is key’ to Iraq’s future, UN envoy tells Security Council

Belgium: Youth Forum takes legal step to ban unpaid internships

European Commission recommends common EU approach to the security of 5G networks

The Future of Balkans: Embracing Education

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

Gas pipeline in the European Union. (Copyright: EU, 2012 / Source: EC - Audiovisual Service / Photo: Ferenc Isza)

EU Investment Bank approves € 1.5bn loan for Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP)

Could Europe become the first climate-neutral continent?

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

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