By Alesha Ramírez Lobato
Since I started as a medical student at one of the best universities in Mexico, I have thought about everything that facilitated me getting there. Mainly, I know that it was my parents who have supported me throughout my life on every occasion, but when I looked around and saw a room full of women, that’s when I knew the other reason.
Getting to study for one of the most demanding careers has not only taught me medical or surgical skills, it has also taught me to break down barriers, limits, and stereotypes. Matilde Montoya was the first female doctor in Mexico, the country where I am from. This woman is not only an example to follow, and worthy of admiration for her perseverance and dedication, but she is also the reason why many Mexican women doctors can be in an operating room, hospital, or clinic nowadays.
Dr. Montoya managed to break through and leave a huge and indelible mark in a territory in which we continue trying to advance today. Her story, apart from being inspiring for women, is also inspiring for society. She was supported by her mother but also found support in the president of Mexico at that time. Being able to guide a person to reach the top and also teaching that person to guide another is not a question of gender, it is a question of selfless altruism, of being able to create great things together and create a growth system for each other. Women can guide other women and other men, as well as vice versa. We must not forget that we are all part of the team and play key parts in this field. Our fight in the operating room should not be to be there – our fight is for the life of the patient, our fight is together as a team and not as gender rivals.
Breaking stereotypes is one of the things that I have enjoyed doing the most throughout my entry into medicine. This goes from breaking them for myself to being able to help others break them. I also want to create an environment that promotes diversity and inclusion – taking into account race / ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, socioeconomic level, and religion. We must strengthen each and every one of the areas that lead us to a diversity of thought and more inclusive growth and innovation, because we must not forget that a woman can inspire others by breaking stereotypes that are often one of the biggest obstacles we face as a society.
It is essential that we support each other and help deconstruct this environment – spreading equal treatment, support, respect and, above all, taking female power out of the shadows. We must change imagining for creating opportunities for women to develop their full potential, and we can achieve that by planting the seed of change from within.
My name is Alesha Ramírez Lobato, I am a third-year medical student at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores Monterrey in Mexico City. I am currently the vice president of a student chapter that is part of the AWS. I am interested in choosing pediatric surgery in a few years and for now one of my greatest passions is to share a little of what I know with others and thus help them, I am a creator of medical content on tiktok with more than 20 thousand followers, you can find me @alesharmz.med
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.