Glass Ceiling for Women in Medicine

Category: Culture
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Why should anyone care about the glass ceiling effect on women? It has the same answers to questions like “why should we end slavery?”. It is because Americans believe in justice. Although men and women have gender differences, these differences should not be used to judge which sex will be better at a job. Women have proven to be able to handle as much as men can and even outperform them. Therefore, they must be recognized for their achievements and judged accordingly. Like a lot of other issues at institutional levels, it will take a while for gender disparity at the workplace to be completely resolved. The number of women in leadership in medicine and other careers has increased over the years but not so significantly. The reason for this disparity cannot be education because various studies show that women have the most degrees in the country. Therefore, we must look elsewhere for the cause which most people have argued to be societal gender norms. So, how can we move away from gender devaluation and get more women to move up the ladder, beyond glass ceiling?

Abstract; The term “glass ceiling” refers to women’s lack of advancement into leadership positions despite no visible barriers. The term has been applied to academic medicine for over a decade but has not previously been applied to the advancement of women’s health. This paper discusses (1) the historical linking of the advances in women’s health with women’s leadership in academic medicine, (2) the slow progress of women into leadership in academic medicine, and (3) indicators that the advancement of women’s health has stalled. We make the case that deeply embedded unconscious gender-based biases and assumptions underpin the stalled advancement of women on both fronts. We conclude with recommendations to promote progress beyond the apparent glass ceiling that is preventing further advancement of women’s health and women leaders. We emphasize the need to move beyond “fixing the women” to a systemic, institutional approach that acknowledges and addresses the impact of unconscious, gender-linked biases that devalue and marginalize women and issues associated with women, such as their health.

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Summary: The article is based on three things; historical linking of women’s’ health to leadership positions, the slow rate of women into leadership and indication that women’s health has stalled because of the glass ceiling. To show the link between women’s health to leadership positions, the authors employ numerous data from consistent studies that show that when a few women make it to the leadership position, there is an overall improvement in the health of the other women working in these medical institutions. They hoped that it would give more opportunities for women in leadership, but, that has not been the case. They also provided data from reliable sources to show the slow advancement of women in leadership positions. They also mention the gender pay inequality which is as a result of the glass ceiling. This research showed the root cause of absence of women in leadership positions which are the gender-linked assumptions and concluded that marginalizing and devaluing women’s faculty in medicine will cause women to never break the glass ceiling. At the end of this article is a lot of recommended methods to break the glass ceiling.

Shirley Graves M. D., D. Sc. (honorary) (1936), Professor Emeritus of Anesthesiology and Pediatrics at the University of Florida, was one of the most influential women in medicine in the 1960 and 1970s, a time when the medical profession was overwhelmingly male-dominated. In today’s society, it is hard to believe that only 50 years ago, women were scarce in the field of medicine. Yet Dr. Graves was a pioneer in the fields of pediatric anesthesia and pediatric critical care medicine. She identifies her development of the pediatric intensive care unit and her leadership in the Division of Pediatric Anesthesia at the University of Florida as her defining contributions. Through her journal articles, book chapters, national and international lectures, and leadership in the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Florida Society of Anesthesiology, she inspired a generation of men and women physicians to conquer the unthinkable and break through the glass ceiling. 

Summary: The main purpose of the article was to provide information about a woman who led a powerful position in the field of medicine during the time where males were dominant in the field. Dr. Shirley was one out of four women in a class of 70 students at medical school. Despite the scarcity of women in leadership positions, with determination and hard work, Dr Shirley was able to break through the glass ceiling and began to pave the way for many other women in academic medicine.

Annotation: This article is useful for including personal element. Although the article shows that Dr. Graves is a source of inspiration for both men and women who are trying to break the glass ceiling, it does not show many of the possible difficulties she faced with being the only woman amongst men and how it must have been hard for her to attain leadership over men. Also, the article was not written as a direct interview; it was written as a biography which does not make me feel convinced as much as if she had provided all the information above by herself. This would have helped to support my research more.

Despite the recent movements for female equality and empowerment, few women occupy top positions in scientific decision-making. The challenges women face during their career may arise from societal biases and the current scientific culture. We discuss the effect of such biases at three different levels of the career and provide suggestions to tackle them. At the societal level, gender roles can create a negative feedback loop in which women are discouraged from attaining top positions and men are discouraged from choosing a home-centered lifestyle. This loop can be broken early in life by providing children with female role models that have a work-centered life and opening up the discussion about gender roles at a young age. At the level of hiring, unconscious biases can lead to a preference for male candidates. The introduction of (unbiased) artificial intelligence algorithms and gender champions in the hiring process may restore the balance and give men and women an equal chance. At the level of coaching and evaluation, barriers that women face should be addressed on a personal level through the introduction of coaching and mentoring programmes. In addition, women may play a pivotal role in shifting the perception of scientific success away from bibliometric outcomes only towards a more diverse assessment of quality and societal relevance. Taken together, these suggestions may break the glass ceiling in the scientific world for women; create more gender diversity at the top and improve translational science in medicine.

Summary: This research article evaluates the causes of glass ceiling for women and lay more emphasis on the glass ceiling for leadership positions for women in medicine. This article contains very useful information for my persuasive solution paper. They provide data from several educational studies that show the gross lack of diversity in leadership positions for women. The authors examine the causes for the gender disparity at various levels of career. Their research is based on societal gender roles, hiring biased practices and what they referred to as the “imposter syndrome”. One of the most obvious gender norms they talk about is masculinity attributed to men and pregnancy. They state that it is the reason why most women choose jobs that give them the flexibility of being able to take care of home and maternal duties. However, women are given negative feedback from the society when they refuse to comply to the society norms. As a result, women have no choice but to settle for lesser positions and this influences their mental health in most cases. The article also mention that employers would rather employ men. This is also known as hiring biases. One solution they offered would be the use of artificial intelligence when employing people like Unilever does. Another reason the article mentioned for absence of women leadership is the imposter syndrome which means that they doubt their accomplishments and have the fear of being ‘internalized as fraud”. They also discuss some other possible solutions and conclude that tackling gender disparity in leadership will increase the chance of successful translational medicine for women.

The authors convey their concerns on the state of women in leadership, particularly in the fields of pharmacy, healthcare, and higher education. Topics covered include gender bias as a challenge for women in the workplace, the scarcity of women corporate executives according to media outlet CNN, and career development trends in academic programs in the health professions.

Summary: The authors above are concerned about the glass ceiling for women in leadership as well. They focus on the extend of women’s leadership so far, the barriers to leadership for women, benefits of having women in leadership and most importantly, strategies to overcome these barriers. They provide data from several sources that compare the number of women in the institution and the number that actually make it to top positions. According to them, “these findings suggest that women more often work in roles that may hinder progression to higher-level leadership positions and have fewer opportunities to break into the leadership ranks”. Unlike the other articles, it clearly examines the importance of women in leadership positions and their overall impact. various studies that show that there was an out performance than in boards that were all men. They based these results on the heterogeneity of ideas which comes about when women are involved. Other reasons aside gender norms are women’s lack of internal and external relationships and the type of leadership women choose – selfless leadership- not giving credit to herself and would result in lower high-profile recognition. The author establish that salary gap is a barrier to leadership and not a result of glass-ceiling. The devaluation of women’s work discourages them for working for positions.

Annotation: This paper is very powerful in its evaluation of numbers over the years. The focus is not only on gender norms like in the other articles which provide different pieces of information for my paper. Also, the solutions given in this article was not only pointed to the system but to the women themselves.

All four sources strongly support that gender stereotypes are the main causes of inability of most women to move up the ladder. Women are faced with a double burden in their career – the struggle to move ahead – which involve: overcoming the stereotypes and doing extremely well in their jobs. From what I understand, if a lot of action is not taken, like the ones listed in the articles, institutional leadership will remain in the hands of men and women will not be motivated to change the situation. So, my paper will focus on finding more solutions…

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Glass Ceiling for Women in Medicine. (2021, Mar 16). Retrieved from