Women in medicine - navigating a complex world


  • Dr Sucheta Tiwari Camden and Islington Trust


Gender, Discrimination, Physicians, women, Women in medicine


Widely publicised allegations of sexual abuse have thrown light on the issue of gender-based discrimination women face in many industries. Workplaces are now being redesigned to suit women’s needs. Medicine has a bidirectional relation with society. It is shaped by society, and its ideas often shape society in return. This article attempts to explore the relationship medicine has with women. It assesses how traditional gender roles were defined by medicine as desirable ideals of health. It looks at historical gender-based biases inherent in the study and practice of medicine. It attempts to view women’s health beyond their reproductive function. And lastly, it explores gender biases within medicine as a profession, in the hope of initiating a conversation and bringing about positive change in the field. The author acknowledges that gender has been treated as binary in this article, and admits that the decision was made to simplify the narrative.


Download data is not yet available.


Biography: Tarana Burke. New York: A&E Television Networks, LLC. 2020 Jun 19 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://www.biography.com/activist/tarana-burke

North A. 7 positive changes that have come from the #MeToo movement. Vox. 2019 Oct 04 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://www.vox.com/identities/2019/10/4/20852639/me-too-movement-sexual-harassment-law-2019

Bhowal T. Tanushree Dutta, Who Triggered India’s #MeToo, Says “Hopeful I Will Get Justice”. New Delhi: NDTV. 2018 Oct 23 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://www.ndtv.com/entertainment/tanushree-dutta-who-triggered-indias-metoo-says-hopeful-she-will-get-justice-1936494

Dasgupta P. #MeToo In India: 75 Professors, 30 Institutes, What Happened To Raya Sarkar’s List Of Sexual Harassers? HuffPost India [Internet]. 2018 Oct 27 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/10/25/metoo-in-india-75-professors-30-institutes-what-happened-to-raya-sarkar-s-list-of-sexual-harassers_a_23571422/

Golder S, Agrawal N, Bhogal RK, Tada PR, Menon RR, Thekkudan J, Thomas M, Laddha R. Measurement of Domestic Violence in NFHS Surveys and Some Evidence. New Delhi: Oxfam India. 2016 Aug 23 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://www.oxfamindia.org/sites/default/files/2018-10/WP-Measurement-of-Domestic-Violence-in-National-Family-Health-Survey-surveys-and-Some-Evidence-EN.pdf

Levinson R. Sexism in Medicine. Am J Nurs. 1976;76(3):426–31.

Temmerman M, Khosla R, Laski L, Mathews Z, Say L. Women’s health priorities and interventions. BMJ. 2015;351:h4147.

Armstrong G, Vijayakumar L. Suicide in India: a complex public health tragedy in need of a plan. Lancet Public Health. 2018;3(10):e459–60.

Goldhill O. Period pain can be “almost as bad as a heart attack.” Why aren’t we researching how to treat it? New York: Quartz. 2016 Feb 18 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://qz.com/611774/period-pain-can-be-as-bad-as-a-heart-attack-so-why-arent-we-researching-how-to-treat-it/

Shute S. Sexist Language and Sexism. In: Vetterling-Braggin M, editor. Sexist Language: A Modern Philosophical Analysis. New Jersey: Littlefield, Adams and Co.; 1981. p. 23–33.

Nagarajan R. More women study medicine, but few practise. New Delhi: The Times of India. 2016 Jan 11 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/More-women-study-medicine-but-few-practise/articleshow/50525799.cms

Anant Bhan: Gender gap in medical education leadership in India. London :The BMJ Opinion. 2015 Jul 31 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2015/07/31/anant-bhan-gender-gap-in-medical-education-leadership-in-india/

Bhadra M. Indian Women in Medicine: An Enquiry Since 1880. Indian Anthropol. 2011;41(1):17–43.

Gill R. Gender stereotypes: a history of nursing in India. Social Action. 2018;68:43-55.

British Medical Association. Review of the gender pay gap in medicine. London: BMA. 2020 Sep 07 [cited 2020 Sep 28]. Available from https://www.bma.org.uk/pay-and-contracts/pay/how-doctors-pay-is-decided/review-of-the-gender-pay-gap-in-medicine

Sharma NC. India slips four ranks on World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2020. New Delhi: Mint. 2019 Dec 17 [cited 2020 Sep 28]. Available from https://www.livemint.com/news/india/india-slips-four-ranks-on-world-economic-forum-s-global-gender-gap-index-2020-11576574974188.html

Mukherjee A. What is rape victim Aruna Shanbaug’s real story?. Hong Kong: Asia Times. 2015 May 19 [cited 2020 Sep 20]. Available from http://www.atimes.com/article/what-is-rape-victim-aruna-shanbaugs-real-story/

Australian Medical Association. Flexibility in Medical Work and Training Practices - 2005. Revised 2015. 2015 Nov 24 [cited 2018 Oct 31]. Available from https://ama.com.au/position-statement/flexibility-medical-work-and-training-practices




How to Cite

Tiwari, S. (2020). Women in medicine - navigating a complex world. Research & Humanities in Medical Education, 7, 196-199. Retrieved from https://www.rhime.in/ojs/index.php/rhime/article/view/395