Feminisation of Medicine

How will the feminisation of medicine impact women's health

As we approach the 'International Day of Action for Women's Health', it is time to reflect on the health issues women are facing today and the phenomenon of the feminization of the medical profession. What actions can be taken to address these issues and how can more women in the medical field help?

Women's Health

What are the medical issues women are facing today? Women face risks of mortality from cervix and breast cancer, especially women in Africa who are at a higher risk of dying from these conditions. This is due to limited access to care fuelled by a lack of enthusiasm in seeking medical screening, lack of specific health information, already held beliefs, and a lack of screening facilities [6].

Statistically, women make up a large number of domestic violence victims. They are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues such as stress disorder, depression, and dependency on psychotropic substances [10]. How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected women’s health? Covid-19 had a significant impact on women's mental health, as there was drastically high reporting of gender-based violence and body image issues (dysmorphia) [11] Studies published by Lancet show an increase in stillbirth, and maternal depression as well as maternal deaths. Lower-income countries faced less access to family planning resources, leading to 7 million unintended pregnancies during the pandemic [4].

Women in Medicine

Women have moved from the sideline of medicine to the forefront, with trends showing an increase in female health practitioners and predictions of reaching or surpassing their male counterparts [1]. This is the feminization of the medical profession, which is projected to reach 60-70 % of the medical workforce in 10 years [2]. This is a welcome change as women tend to offer a more humanistic, honest, and empathetic care than men in medicine [2].

The increase in female doctors is mainly found in younger age groups[3], contributory factors being that two women enter medical school for every male due to both their academic achievement and a higher scoring on empathy and relational attitude [7].