The feminization of medicine in Brazil – The European Sting – Critical News & Insights on European Politics, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Business & Technology

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Rafaela Teixeira Honório, 4th year medical student at Barretos School of Health Sciences Dr. Paulo Prata (FACISB), Brazil. Rafaela is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA), a cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of IFMSA on the subject, nor of The European Sting.


“We are not born, but rather become a woman. »Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949). To become a woman in a patriarchal society is very difficult, always considered inferior to the man, born to reproduce, to take care of the house and the children; not that it makes them less female, but they want more than that. What they want is to become free, empowered and have 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 place and their just 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 mid-1879, the first woman entered a medical school (1)

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

From university, the curricular structures are designed for men, excluding the female life cycle which has an important stage for many women, motherhood. To be successful professionally, many women have to give up motherhood, especially early in their careers, as it is the ideal physiological period to be a mother. In addition to caring for their children, women remain overwhelmed with household chores and are unable to reconcile or fully devote themselves to the profession, as men do.

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

The prejudices rooted in patriarchal society give women much more prestige to their aesthetic beauty than to their intellectual capacities. As a result, many women are humiliated and are not heard in their work environment, sometimes underestimated by the patients themselves, without having the same opportunities, they hardly ever occupy important positions within the hospital. medicine, which discourages other women. Gender equality in medicine and the empowerment of women are necessary, and by voicing women and their recognized skills, they can be free to make personal choices such as getting married and having children without their own choice. interferes with their career. We need women who are a reference for other women and who are thus strong and empowered in their careers and their personal lives!

The references

1. Scheffer MC, Cassenote AJF. In 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 cirurgias. Rev. Col Bras Cir. 2010; 37 (1).

3. Franco T, dos Santos EG. Mulheres e cirurgias. 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 affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA). She is part of the academic league of pneumology and sleep disorders, gynecology-obstetrics and oncology. She wants to follow the clinical field of medicine and believes that through humanized medicine we can put ourselves in each other’s shoes and see what causes pain and suffering, providing more than physiological care and healing. with empathy and compassion.


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