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MEDICAL EDUCATION
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 112-114

Neglected domain of feminism in medical education: The need for curricular reform


1 Medical Education Unit Coordinator and Member of the Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission27-Feb-2022
Date of Decision23-Mar-2022
Date of Acceptance03-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication07-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
MD, FAIMER, PGDHHM, DHRM, FCS, ACME, Professor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_26_22

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  Abstract 


Feminism can be acknowledged as a kind of movement to bring about an end to sexism, sexist exploitation, and domination of the male gender. The necessity to bring about an improvement in the health and well-being of women originated 4–5 decades ago, owing to the rising awareness about gender bias in a male-dominated medical community. This means that we continue to deliver medical education and produce medical students, wherein the training is still rooted in patriarchy, with the perspectives of women significantly being ignored. Further, most of the medical textbooks had limited content on women's gender-specific knowledge, and thus it was envisaged by some of the educationists to adopt specific corrective measures to minimize the imbalance and injustice. To conclude, the component of feminism in medical education has not been given due importance over the years. Thus, there is an indispensable need to address these components in the process of design, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum to produce gender-sensitive medical graduates who play their part in overcoming different kinds of gender discrimination.

Keywords: Feminist, gender, medical education


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Neglected domain of feminism in medical education: The need for curricular reform. Curr Med Issues 2022;20:112-4

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Neglected domain of feminism in medical education: The need for curricular reform. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 May 21];20:112-4. Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2022/20/2/112/344933




  Introduction Top


Feminism can be acknowledged as a kind of movement to bring about an end to sexism, sexist exploitation, and domination of the male gender.[1] In fact, patriarchy has a long-lasting aftereffect manifesting as gender-based violence, harassment, salary gaps, and segregation.[2] The adoption of a feminist approach aims to accomplish workplace equity, reproductive rights, and equal position in different leadership roles. The medical students of today's generation will be the health-care providers in future, and thus, there is an immense need to make them understand the prevailing problems, especially in the medical education delivery, so that these issues can be timely addressed.[1],[2]


  Discussion Top


The medical training imparted to students is done with a primary intention to improve the clinical diagnosis and provision of appropriate treatment to minimize the suffering of patients and thereby ensure a better quality of life.[2],[3] However, it is very much crucial that the elements of the social sciences, cultural context, and humanities should be integrated into the medical education delivery process.[2],[3],[4] This is primarily due to the simultaneous presence of a wide range of biological, social, behavioral, and financial attributes that have been linked with people from different genders making the practice of clinical medicine complex.[3],[4] The field of medicine generally demonstrates male dominance, wherein medical students learn about male doctors and scientists who occupy leadership roles in academic institutions. The traditional gendering of medicine tends to create hurdles for feminist research and practice.[1],[2],[3]


  Gender Issues in Medical Curriculum: Feminist Perspective Top


The necessity to bring about an improvement in the health and well-being of women originated 4–5 decades ago, owing to the rising awareness about gender bias in a male-dominated medical community.[3] In fact, it was acknowledged that the health issues, social context, experiences, and expertise of women were significantly ignored.[3] Further, most of the medical textbooks had limited content on women's gender-specific knowledge, and thus it was envisaged by some of the educationists to adopt specific corrective measures to minimize the imbalance and injustice.[3],[4] Moreover, it was advocated to introduce a component of gender sensitivity in medical education, wherein the content, the language used, and the overall process can cumulatively enhance gender awareness and equity.[4],[5] Soon it was emphasized that the health concerns of women should be incorporated into the curriculum primarily as educational reform, and subsequently, it will become a part of overall curriculum transformation and gender mainstreaming.[6],[7] In fact, many medical schools have included specific gender competencies within their curriculum with an intention to address gender bias.[5],[6],[7],[8]


  Personal Experiences of Female Medical Students and Doctors Top


There are no doubts that a wide range of challenges and inequities have been experienced by female medical students and doctors.[2],[6] In addition, merely increasing the representation of female medical students is not going to bring about transformation in terms of gender identities. The more suitable approach will be to explore the lived experiences of the medical students and thereby identify the issues pertaining to classism, racism, and sexism.[6],[7] Further, it is important to acknowledge that because of not giving leadership roles to female doctors, a lot of damage has been done to their confidence levels. All these issues clearly justify the need to integrate women physicians with their male counterparts and assign them equal responsibility and leadership roles.[7],[8],[9]


  Strategies to Enable Adoption of Feminist Pedagogy Top


The first and foremost thing to ensure a feminist pedagogical approach is through evaluating the hidden curriculum of the institution and this can be ascertained by obtaining the views of the medical students about gender stereotyping, gender sensitivity, and other gender-specific issues.[8],[10] The medical training imparted to students should not only focus on knowledge and skills but also should specifically target the process of socialization and professionalism.[5],[6] The medical students should be trained in such a way that they understand the importance of sociocultural attributes, and not encourage any gender-specific inequity. From a feminist perspective, it is crucial to understand oneself, as then only we can understand others and thereby deliver culturally-sensitive care to patients.[3],[4],[5] Moreover, medical students should be trained in the component of empathy, as it will significantly aid them to discourage all kinds of gender-specific discrimination.[11]


  Encouraging Feminist Approach in Medical Education Research Top


Considering that the domain of feminism has been widely ignored in medical education in different parts of the globe, there is a definite need to explore the same in the research work carried out in the field.[8],[10] In fact, the feminist approach can be ascertained depending on the way the questions are asked to the participants, the methodology adopted, the overall framework, and the ways in which planned research is translated into specific actions.[4],[5],[6],[7] Some of the common but significant research work includes obtaining opinions of different stakeholders on introducing a feminist component in the medical curriculum, or incorporating the experience of a colored woman pursuing her medicine and comparing the same with her white counterparts, etc.[3],[4],[5],[7],[8],[9]


  Need of the Hour Top


Feminism has been acknowledged as an important area that has been ignored in the past but owing to the rising awareness, this component has definitely gained lots of attraction.[8],[10] In fact, feminism and the associated issues have found a place in different sectors, including education, nevertheless, it is significantly missing in the medical domain.[7],[12] This means that we continue to deliver medical education and produce medical students, wherein the training is still rooted in patriarchy, with the perspectives of women significantly being ignored.[6],[7],[8] The good sign is that there is a positive move toward the adoption of feminist approaches in pedagogy and research, but a lot needs to be done to overcome the concerns of gender-based discrimination, abuse, and sexism.[1],[2],[5] However, we have to make significant progress toward policy decisions, pedagogical approaches, design of the curriculum, and evaluation of the same using feminist approaches.[6],[7],[8]


  Conclusion Top


The component of feminism in medical education has not been given due importance over the years. Thus, there is an indispensable need to address these components in the process of design, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum to produce gender-sensitive medical graduates who play their part in overcoming different kinds of gender discrimination.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Sanghvi R. Gender perspectives in medical education. Indian J Med Ethics 2019;4:148-53.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
MacLeod A, Frank B. Feminist pedagogy and medical education: Why not now? Med Educ 2013;47:11-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Sharma M. Applying feminist theory to medical education. Lancet 2019;393:570-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Bleakley A. Gender matters in medical education. Med Educ 2013;47:59-70.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Hochleitner M, Nachtschatt U, Siller H. How do we get gender medicine into medical education? Health Care Women Int 2013;34:3-13.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Rojek MK, Jenkins MR. Improving medical education using a sex – And gender-based medicine lens. J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2016;25:985-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Kling JM, Rose SH, Kransdorf LN, Viggiano TR, Miller VM. Evaluation of sex-and gender-based medicine training in post-graduate medical education: A cross-sectional survey study. Biol Sex Differ 2016;7:38.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
McGregor AJ, Greenberg MR, Barron R, Walter LA, Wolfe J, Deutsch AL, et al. Incorporating sex and gender-based medical education into residency curricula. AEM Educ Train 2020;4:S82-7.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Lindberg BM, Fulleborn ST, Semelrath KM, Lee RC, Nguyen DR. Steps to improving sexual and gender diversity curricula in undergraduate medical education. Mil Med 2019;184:e190-4.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Madrigal J, Rudasill S, Tran Z, Bergman J, Benharash P. Sexual and gender minority identity in undergraduate medical education: Impact on experience and career trajectory. PLoS One 2021;16:e0260387.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Wen D, Ma X, Li H, Liu Z, Xian B, Liu Y. Empathy in Chinese medical students: Psychometric characteristics and differences by gender and year of medical education. BMC Med Educ 2013;13:130.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Mahr F, Dalke K, Roden RC, Keisling AK, Petrovic-Dovat L. Gender competence in medical education. Clin Teach 2021;18:490-3.  Back to cited text no. 12
    




 

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  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Discussion
Gender Issues in...
Personal Experie...
Strategies to En...
Encouraging Femi...
Need of the Hour
Conclusion
References

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