Why it is hard for a woman to choose a medical career?

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rosita Reivytytė, a third-year medical student at Vilnius University, Lithuania. 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.


Nowadays, gender inequality remains a big problem in the medical field. Women are still pictured as housekeepers and working men supporters, though most of them have brilliant minds and could achieve high career goals. So what are these problems which women face in choosing a medical path?

Unfortunately, some medical specialities associated with leadership are still male-dominant. It is especially seen in the surgical field. 2017 AAMC data shows that female creates less than a quarter of 10 surgical specialities (1). How can a woman become a surgeon if her main job is to look after kids and cook dinner? Surgery is a speciality that needs focus, time and physical strength. In society perception, women are weak, fragile and vulnerable. But how men are different? They are humans – they cry, they are scared and they are pregnable too. Yet it is difficult to understand that fact and it is better to apathetically close eyes and do not see, thus most women choose to leave such a career path.

From the writer’s point of view, women leadership is hardly possible without mentors and surrounding people support in every step of a career. However, it is still seen that in many places attendings put pressure, humiliate and underestimate women just because they are women, not men. According to a 2019 study (2), among  65,1% of women respondents reported sexual discrimination in surgical residency programmes. In fact, it is hard for a human being to fight against people who are superior and a person has to be tough if chooses leadership in such circumstances.

An analysis of UK medical profession employees shows that the gender pay gap per hour in medicine stood at about 23% in 2018 (3). Therefore, women are devalued by employers – it is hard to find a well-paid job and psychologically difficult to deal with this depreciation. It might be that such an employers attitude could be related to historically formed gender stereotypes. Hence possibly due to payment differences female will not choose to become a leader.

However, women are increasingly choosing a medical career and their impact is growing. It seems that if people and their attitude about gender stereotyping will not change, then Darwin‘s theory will appear – women someday will achieve equality by numbers and then it will be more female choosing an academic path.

References

  1. Association of American Medical Colleges (2017, December). Active Physicians by Sex and Specialty, 2017. Retrieved from https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/interactive-data/active-physicians-sex-and-specialty-2017
  2. Hu, Y.-Y., Ellis, R. J., Hewitt, D. B., Yang, A. D., Cheung, E. O., Moskowitz, J. T., … Bilimoria, K. Y. (2019). Discrimination, Abuse, Harassment, and Burnout in Surgical Residency Training. The New England Journal of Medicine, 381(18), 1741–1752. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMsa1903759
  3. Jane, D., Lead, D., & Woodhams, C. (2020). Mend the Gap : The Independent Review into Gender Pay Gaps in Medicine in England. (December).
  4. About the author
  5. Rosita Reivytytė is a third-year medical student at Vilnius University, Lithuania. She wishes to become a doctor someday and treat patients as good as she can. Also, Rosita strongly believes, that every person can do everything he or she wants – sometimes it is needed not to be afraid.

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Comments

  1. Becoming a doctor requires extensive and expensive education followed by years of intense on-the-job training. The hard work and countless hours one needs to invest in studying medicine can come across as an arduous task.

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