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An achievable goal - Gender Equality

The question can be asked as to why – in the year 2017 – are women still undervalued in society? Years ago, it was accepted for a woman to play second fiddle to a man, in fact that has gone on for many generations. Why are women still in this situation?

While it is well known that women earn less than men who are in exactly the same positions, it is still a very disturbing fact. Studies show that female physicians earn on average $20,000 less than male physicians. This study compared the earnings of employees in 24 medical schools. The study also took into account the years of experience, age adjustment, published papers, and the speciality type. Without the adjustment, there was an average of $50,000 between the salaries.

The fact of the matter seems to be that women are mistaken for nurses, even if they are doctors, and men are assumed to be doctors, even if they are not. Even when both parties are dressed in the same professional attire, it seems that they are simply assigned roles based on gender.

Data does not support the reason as women being underrepresented on medicine, as is often thought. A report in 2016 from the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) showed that 46% of graduates were women. This had not changed since 2012. It becomes blatant that gender bias plays a great part in situations where the perception (however archaic) remains of women not taking a leadership role.

The number of women in the workforce who have attained college and graduate degrees has continued to climb, and recently has surpassed men. The Census Bureau shows that the overall working population is made up of 50% women, but only 26% of fields such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are taken by women.

The AAMC reported in 2015 that just 33.3% of physicians who were actively practising, were women. A second report from the AAMC showed that women represented the minority in other areas. 46% of residents were women, 38% of full-time faculty, 21% of full professors and just 15% of department chairs were women.

It is entirely possible that society still dictates the roles of men and women, albeit in an old-fashioned manner. Female doctors may just not look the part that society imagines a doctor to look like.

Typically, careers in the STEM fields have been dominated by men, which makes it important and critical that young girls should be encouraged to become involved in these fields, and go on to make careers of them. Without a diverse group pf people in any of these fields, it may be that discoveries could be missed, because there is not a woman at the table.

It is interesting to note that in the book and recently released movie Hidden Figures, the mathematician, engineers, and computer scientists who were instrumental in the success of many NASA missions, were all women.

Some facts that may not be too well-known are that it was a female astronomer, Caroline Herschel, who first discovered a comet. It was a woman, Rosalind Franklin, who was the first person to produce an X-ray image of DNA. This important event then lead to the discovery of the double-helix DNA structure by Watson and Crick.


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