Prejudice-based medicine

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Tainara Págio Chagass, currently attending second year at Universidade Vila Velha – ESM and Ms. Esther Pereira Borges Correia is currently attending third year at Unicesumar – PR, Brazil. They are 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.


Until the 1960s, 90% of the candidates for medical school were white men, upper-middle class and predominantly children of physicians1. From the 1970s, this statistic began to change: the barriers that previously prevented women from having the same access to education and job opportunities that men fell to the ground, beginning with a progressive decrease in gender differences and a gradual increase in women in education2. Thereby, women began to gain space in the profession and in medical schools.

Despite this conquest of more access, women continue to suffer from sexist stereotypes and gender discrimination imposed, often unconsciously, by society to this day3. That’s what happens in the hidden segregations that mediate educational institutions with gender hierarchies, in which the work of a male doctor is more valued than the same work performed by a female doctor2,3. In addition, women need to show being more empowered than her male competitor to have the same chances of success, since her physical attributes are more valued than her skills, intelligence and other attributes necessary for medical success4. There are also the specialties where machismo and prejudice still predominate, such as the surgical and emergency areas, which are surrounded by the idea of greater need for physical strength and resistance and demand for greater availability of time2. In this context, women are excluded due to sexist stereotypes, since they are taxed as fragile and without time due to the still-rooted concept that raising children and caring for the house are primarily feminine activities, marginalizing her from such areas. Besides that, this marginalization does not occur only by discrimination against women, but also due to the lack of inspirational figures in surgical areas, for example, being a limiting factor when choosing these specializations by medical students4.

That said, although medicine is increasingly feminizing, many barriers still need to be faced for women to be truly viewed equally. It’s time to reconsider some of the values set out in traditional society, since women are a fundamental piece in shaping the future of the medical profession.

References

  1. Machado MDCS. A feminização da medicina. Análise Social. 2003; 38(166): 127-137. Available in: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41011779?seq=1
  • Franco T, Santos EGD. Mulheres e cirurgiãs. Revista do Colégio Brasileiro de Cirurgiões. 2010; 37(1): 1-6. Available in: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-69912010000100015
  • About the author
  • Tainara Págio Chagass is currently attending second year at Universidade Vila Velha – ES. She expects to graduate in  2025.
  • Esther Pereira Borges Correia is currently attending third year at Unicesumar – PR, expecting to graduate in 2024.

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