Feature | Being a Female Cardiologist in Brazil

This article was authored by Angela B. Santos, MD, cardiologist at Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Although cardiology is often looked at as a male-dominated field, women compose about 40 percent of Brazilian cardiologists – and this number is consistent with my experience in both the public teaching hospital and the private hospital where I work as cardiologist and echocardiographer.

In Brazil, female cardiologists occupy high-ranking administrative positions in different types of institutions such as Nadine Clausell, MD, PhD, president of a public teaching hospital and the first woman to direct the institution, and Carisi Polanczyk, MD, chief of the cardiology division of a private hospital. Both women serve as excellent professional role models for all female cardiologists. In Brazil, female cardiologists not only break down gender barriers and hold equal positions within our specialty but also are  superior to male cardiologists in some instances. Brazilian cardiologists both read echocardiograms and scan the patients, and female patients often comment that they feel more comfortable with another woman.

As for female work relationships with male colleagues, women work the same position as men without differences in the daily work routine or salary. The exception to this routine is in situations like pregnancy, when women may prefer to avoid radiation exposure or performing echocardiograms during interventional procedures such as transcatheter aortic valve replacement. Female cardiologists also have substantial employment benefits in Brazil. Employment laws guarantee professional women up to six months of paid leave and protected breastfeeding time until the baby's first birthday.

Female cardiologists in Brazil do not face major issues like gender-related salary gaps or prejudice, problems that might be more noticeable for Brazilian women working in less skilled jobs. Step by step, women are assuming higher-level positions as decision-makers not as a consequence of gender affirmative policies but because of their own professional merits.