Women are already the majority in Extremaduran medicine

When the doctor from Extremadura Emilia Hidalgo-Barquero entered the Faculty of Medicine of Cádiz in 1972 (where the Ministry of Education sent students from Extremadura that year before the creation of the UEx) they were at most 20 or 30% women in a group of about 900 students. “I’m from the baby boomer generation,” she recalls. «In 1978, of the 153 graduate students, we are 32 women». And there were only two of them when she started his specialty: Pediatrics (later she also did Pediatric Nephrology). «Now the pediatricians are mostly women, but when I started the MIR in the Materno Infantil de Badajoz there were 34 doctors and only one woman among the assistants», she recalls.

She, from DonBenito and already retired since 2020, is a member of the retired doctors on the Board of Directors of the Badajoz College of Physicians and has been witness and one of the protagonists of the change that women have experienced in the field of medicine, practically relegated to men until the 70s. A change that came with the opening of society and women’s access to university.

They have long been the majority in the faculties of Medicine in Spain. At the University of Extremadura, currently almost 71% of first-year students are women, according to UEx statistics. «Very demonstrative of all this is the change in the proportion of registered doctors in our province in a single generation, as seen in the statistics of the College of Physicians: Of the registered doctors over 65 years of age, 528 are men and 135 women, without However, among those under 35 years of age, 542 are women and 245 are men”, highlights the doctor.

unstoppable progression

Its inclusion in universities has allowed its progression in hospitals and health centers outside AND within the community. Women have been the majority in Spanish medicine for several years now, but in Extremadura they have just recently passed the milestone. In 2018 they were 49.9% of all active doctors in the regionaccording to the latest report on medical demography prepared by the Collegiate Medical Organization. And in June 2021 they already accounted for 54.2% of the total number of doctors who work in public health in Extremadura. This data is extracted from a recent report (published last March) by the Ministry of Health that has been prepared by the EcoSalud team of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canarias. It analyzes the future needs of physicians throughout the national territory in a scenario of sustained deficit based on an X-ray of the profession in each community of the country. And one of the characteristics that stands out, in addition to age and retirement, is the presence of women.

According to this document, female doctors make up 59.7% of all medical professionals in Primary Care and account for 50.4% in specialized care. The average, in total, is 54.2% compared to 45.8% of men. But going into the details, there are great differences between the optional specialties.

The presence of women remains low, especially in specialties in the field of surgery. there is hardly two women for every ten surgeons in Neurosurgery, Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology and Cardiovascular Surgery, the three with the lowest data. Their figure is also lower in other specialties that have nothing to do with surgery, such as Nuclear Medicine (they are 22.2% of the total), Cardiology (32.8%) or Urology (38.5%). Nevertheless, there are other much more feminized medical specialties such as Paediatrics, with 76% of women in Primary Care and 66% in Specialized. And they are also a large majority in Preventive Medicine (80%), Obstetrics and Gynecology (69.6%), Allergology (68.2%), Radiation Oncology (64.7%) and Hematology and Hemotherapy (64.6%). ), among other.

For Dr. Emilia Hidalgo-Barquero, these differences are not due to any specific circumstance, because the female presence is already a verifiable fact in any specialty. “I think it is something that also happens in some specific engineering careers, there are some specialties considered more for men and others for women, but we are in all areas.” What is still a little more resistant is reaching positions of responsibility. “Women have been more relegated there and we have kept quiet because we are less ambitious in terms of appointments and positions of responsibility and we have put other tasks ahead, but fortunately this is also changing».

Throughout her experience, she says that she has not felt discriminated against by her colleagues, but she has been able to Observe some specific events within your profession that over time you have recognized as workplace harassment.

ANDhe doctor Remigio Cordero, specialist in Internal Medicine and tutor of residents, who has just retired from the Badajoz hospital complex, has also been a direct witness to the feminization of medicine. «When I studied in the 70s there were barely 20% women in class and in the border of my father, who was also a doctor, only a woman appeared».

Cordero also recalls that when he opted for the board of directors of the Badajoz College of Physicians, at the beginning of the 1980s, they included in their program the elimination of an event that spoke for itself of the reality of that time: the celebration of the day of the doctor’s wife. «As they were all men, this activity had been celebrated, but in those years there were already more and more women and it was time to put an end to it. Fortunately, a social change began to take place and in the distribution of traditional roles », he affirms. A change that is already unstoppable and that will continue to grow.