AMA Victoria

Females make up approximately 50 per cent of medical students and are increasingly represented in all medical specialties, including traditionally male-dominated areas such as surgery. Despite an increase in female doctors in the workplace there is an underrepresentation in leadership positions and women still face challenges when weighing up career and family. The difficulties of balancing multiple roles including those of doctor, researcher, partner, mother and friend can often determine what sort of career a female may choose. Of course, these challenges are not only limited to medicine, but all professional women. 

The Women in Medicine (WIM) Committee was formed in 2009. The group is passionate about working towards a future free of imbalance between individuals within the medical profession. However, until this is achieved, it is the committee’s aim to connect and support women to allow them to thrive in all aspects of life, both professionally and personally. They endeavor to inspire one another and support each other in balancing competing demands and promoting that one does not have to choose between excelling professionally and having a family and social life. These can and should coexist.

Each year they run several events to serve this purpose. Over the years speakers have included Dr Wirgina Maixner, Dr Sally Cockburn (AKA Dr Feelgood), Dr Eugenie Kayak and Dr Bronwyn King. In their Inspiring Women Series at the Botanical in South Yarra, guests heard from two incredibly brilliant women who have excelled in their lives. Associate Professor Kate Drummond, Head of Neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, co-editor of the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience, Deputy Chair (formerly Chair) of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ Section of Women in Surgery and Chair of Specialists Without Borders (soon to be known as Pangea) enthused about what she’s learnt about life and shared stories of her struggles before her successes. Dr Ruth Mitchell, neurosurgical trainee and Chair of the Australian Branch of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, inspired the audience with her stories of her humanitarian work and what is able to be achieved outside of medicine.  

The Committee has also held wellness workshops to encourage mental wellbeing in female and junior doctors, including an Inspiring Women’s Series in Geelong for a laughter-filled evening listening to tales by Dr Kathryn McLeod, a consultant urologist, and Dr Jacinta O’Neill, a general practitioner. Both women connected and motivated the audience with their journeys through medicine to where they are now. 

If you would like to see a WIM event in a rural area near you, please contact the Committee, who would be delighted to assist in extending the network if there is interest. 

The AMA Victoria WIM Committee is made up of female doctors and students and exists to help support women in medicine. If there is anything that you would like to see this committee do, or you’re interested in being involved, please feel free to contact [email protected].