On Tuesday January 24th Lisa Oostenbrink showed her research to the women’s network Vitaal of the Leiden University Medical Center. In June 2016 she had already presented the research to the jury of the TopFem Talent Show 2016.
Lisa is a participant and the winner of Leadership Programme 2015-2016. She is currently busy with her medical internships for her Masters in Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and works as student-assistent Physiology with the Leiden University Medical Center.
She found the inspiration for her Leadership Programme research project in her studies and through TopFem. A lot of her peers were wondering about – amongst other questions – the contrast between the ‘feminisation of medicine’ and the actual percentage of female professors in medicine, about the combination of a challenging PhD or (parttime) job with family life, and about the low percentage of male students and the high percentage of male professors.
The Netherlands places very low in the list of European countries comparing women in high medical functions or jobs. After their graduation the percentage of women is 54%, which is an almost equal balance. However, when you look at women in high medical functions or jobs you find that just 17% of the professors is female.
The consulted literature offers different reasons. For example, the lack of or lesser ambition in comparison with men, and different preferences in medical specializations. Other examples are the imposter-phenomenon (women seem to doubt themselves more than men, and have a more ‘wait-and-see’ attitude versus the male doer), the old boys network, criticism amongst women and thereby undermining each other, and explicit (direct discrimination) and implicit gender bias.
Lisa collected several solutions. Among other solutions she introduced the options to make people more aware of the problem, to bring the subject up for discussion, to make the application procedure more transparant, and to offer leadership training sessions and mentorship to young women. She also mentioned to just be bold and have courage.
In conclusion, Lisa took the view that there are both a glass ceiling and a sticky floor. Enough ambitious and talented (young) women are willing, and aware of the problem and the chances they have.
N.B. An interesting article which partially covers Lisa’s research was recently written in the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.