Because of this pressure for work and home balance for women in medicine, it should come as no surprise that women also enter the field with more hesitation and more self-doubt.
When I began my studies, I felt like an outsider to the people I was surrounded by, and I questioned my ability to succeed with it in college. I felt like if it didn’t come easily, it wasn’t meant for me. Looking back, it fits the definition of imposter syndrome: feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success — a feeling women in medicine know all too well.
Moreover, medicine is a discipline in which women are traditionally outsiders. Carly Stockwell in her 2017 College Factual article writes that only 37% of STEM graduates in 2016 were women. I didn’t notice a lack of women in my classes, but I did notice more apprehension from them. The men seemed to exude more confidence in labs and lectures — a more nonchalant attitude, whether or not they were actually more proficient in the material.
And while these disparities aren’t unique to medicine, their “manifestations are particularly acute in a physically and emotionally demanding profession with a lengthy training process that allows few, if any, breaks,” writes Dhruv Khullar in the New York Times.
Further, these disparities are some among many for women in medicine — including a significant pay gap, a frightening suicide rate and the unlikelihood of advancing to full professorship, with women accounting for a mere one-sixth of medical school deans and department chairs.