Five gender equality solutions for medicine and science

An image of male and female scientists together
© iStock/Martin Barraud

Profs. Sonia Kang and Sarah Kaplan of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have offered five gender equality solutions for medicine and science.

The review, titled “Working toward gender diversity and inclusion in medicine: myths and solutions”, has been published in a special issue of The Lancet on “Advancing women in science, medicine, and global health.” The authors address five diversity and inclusion-related myths, including the assumptions that “promoting diversity contravenes meritocracy” and that “bias is a problem unique to only a few individuals. The review seeks to debunk these myths and offer solutions to improve the following outcomes:

•The number of women in medicine;
•Their lived experiences;
•The capacity to aspire; and
•The opportunity for success.

Addressing systemic and structural biases

The review addresses the progress yet to be made in terms of gender inclusion. Although there has been a rise of women in STEM, they believe that there is remaining bias and discrimination, saying: “Women’s representation in science and medicine has slowly increased over the past few decades. However, this rise in numbers of women, or gender diversity, has not been matched by a rise in gender inclusion. Despite increasing representation, women still encounter bias and discrimination when compared with men in these fields across a variety of outcomes.”

Profs. Kang and Kaplan explained: “We argue for a move away from a singular focus on interventions aimed at targeting individual attitudes and behaviour to more comprehensive interventions that address structural and systemic changes.”

Gender equality solutions

Their abstract concludes: “Individual and systemic biases create unwelcome environments for women, particularly for those who additionally identify with other traditionally devalued groups (eg, women of colour). This review draws on several decades of research in the field of management and its cognate disciplines to identify five myths that continue to perpetuate gender bias and five strategies for improving not only the number of women in medicine, but also their lived experiences, capacity to aspire, and opportunity to succeed.”

Their solutions can be read in the paper here.

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