Just Dandy

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“Medical education is wasted on women!” He sat smugly in the swivel chair next to me, arms folded across his chest. He was within earshot of two other female physicians but neither acknowledged or engaged him.

“Why?” I asked. I had just finished a 36 hour shift from hell. I was not sure I had the energy to discuss this but rage broke through the cloud of fatigue.

“Well, think about it. You women are getting pregnant and have to cut back on work to some degree during that, then maternity leave. You cut back on hours afterwards maybe working part time, or even quit medicine altogether.” He leaned forward. “Those slots in medical school and residency programs should be saved for men who will work at capacity for years and years.”

He had a point. 

A woman in our program had just had her second baby and announced she was going to be a stay at home mom once she graduated in a few months… Four years of medical school and three years of residency training gone, down the drain. 

And yet there was a man in our same program who announced about the same time that he was joining a monastery and would no longer practice medicine. No one told him his education was a waste…

Sexual harassment is a symptom of a larger problem perhaps, the age old question of what to do about women. In fact, as I was looking for stats for this, interestingly it is studied as gender discrimation or gender bias and sexual harrassment, together. An article by Medscape from 2010 entitled “Women in Medicine: Are We There Yet?” shows the number of women vs men in medicine in the U.S. is trending upwards with women making up about a third of the the profession and almost 1/2 of medical school graduates, but the data and stories about gender discrimination and harrassment are startling.

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/732197 (I don’t know why the heck WP won’t let me do a hyperlink for this one…)

To summarize, 48% of female academic physicians experienced sexist behavior with 30% reporting severe harassment compared with 3% of male colleagues. There are some interesting observations from female residents and medical students about their experiences, including the report that virtually all of them felt male physicians were better teachers and that working with female attendings was disappointing. And, according to the US Census Bureau, in 2000 female physicians earned 63 cents for every dollar made by a male physician. 

Suchled provided a link to a much more balanced article than the one from the BBC from my last two posts that gives a bit more insight into Dr. McMullen’s intentions:

Surgeon Stands By Claims As Other Women Come Forward

So. Bottom line… Equality?

To be completely honest, I don’t really want to be equal. 

I want something more…

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78 thoughts on “Just Dandy

  1. I hate to say it, but as long as men rule the world, we’ll have gender inequality. Its not fair but its a fact of life. The good news is as more women go into traditionally male professions, changes have been and will continue to be made. They have to be. Maybe they won’t be welcome by the old boy’s club, but that’s not our problem, thankfully. All we can do is keep going forward.

    Liked by 2 people

      • “I hate to say it, but as long as men rule the world, we’ll have gender inequality.” Women are also to blame for gender inequality as you, VD, point out regarding negative perceptions. Personally, I don’t know which gender is worse, men or women – men are just more blatant.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Victo, during 80 years I met thousands of women. Some of them talked loudly about egual rights (not in the USSR). However, all achievers did not want equality. They loved competition and domination at home and at work. I am going to show many famous women (beside Gala Dali) who did not believe in equality. By the way, Hillary Clinton is a good example.

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  3. Well, all prejudices are based on clichés and some sort of truth. I work in general practice. And yes, women get pregnant and work part time, I didn’t, I always worked full time, but in Prague, when my children were small, we had grandmothers to baby sit. In England, my children were older. In our practice, female doctors’ appointments are most sought after. Women go to the doctors more than men- for contraception, other things. Most of them prefer a female GO, whereas most of men either do not seem to mind, or prefer female Gp’s ,too. My ex-husband once told me that he would feel mote comfortable about a female doctor examining his testicles than a man. My ex husband is a bit homophobic. But I see a lot of men more comfortable to talk to me about their intimate sexual problems or depression. They worry another man might judge them. So people who say Medical school places are wasted on women, think again. Maybe they are wasted on men!
    Lucie

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I am a firm believer in equality, men and women should be equal no discrimination on either side, same pay for the same job, and I also believe the whole maternity leave should be split between the parents, one works for x amount of months while the other takes care of jr. then switch, the working one gets to take x amount of time off work to look after jr. while the other returns to work. as I said equality in all things, I really dislike the gender inequality , I see no problem with women doing the same work that is traditionally male dominated, women are just as capable, yes there are some physical differences between men and women, strength wise (on average) people regardless of male or female or somewhere between should be paid equally based on their ability, if the woman can and does out work the man, she should of course be paid more for her time and ability , as it stands the man earns more by default, simply for being a male, and that has to change.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. In the 70s when I first joined the Bank, female staff were not encouraged to study for exams (at the Bank’s expense and day release) as it was considered a waste because they would get married and leave to have babies. To qualify for a staff bank mortgage, a friend had to sign a declaration that she would not leave or have a child within the first 10 years of the term. She was then 37.
    I am glad to say that attitudes have changed somewhat in the Banking profession, but is still rampantly apparent in others.
    I think many men feel threatened if a woman proves they are better at something than they are. I call it the Tarzan and Jane syndrome of role play.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ahhh, yeah, OK. Well, in one way it is true that as women biologically are the carriers of the children, they have a higher probability of spending less time as a doctor – given the same training at the same age. But there are a number of ameliorating factors that I personally think more than override the difference. Today, in Canada, paid leave to have a child is 1 year and it can be used by either the mother or father or any combination of the two that totals one year. This spreads the “lost” time potentially equally over the two genders.

    Second, and most importantly, the very people who are complaining about “lost” time each have a mother who took the time to have and care for them. The point being that businesses and/or society take one very important input for granted: the supply of trainees or employees. There is a very real social cost to this input and that cost needs to be borne by the system. It can be borne by the government (here in Canada education is subsidized) or by the users, but it is real and must be included in any costing, and that even means medical schools.

    Thirdly, speaking form personal experience, I have a doctor who just had a child and she is a better doctor by far than she was before the birth. She identifies patient issues better, she is more rational in her treatment choices, and she is better attuned to the realities of the patient/disease/treatment integration. In other words, she finally gets it (as most doctors don’t) that i really don’t care what diseases or conditions i have – i care about my quality of life and longevity. In fact it can be argued that the human condition itself is a “disease”. Our doctors are trained to cure diseases of organs – they chose an “organ” at some point in their training and that becomes their speciality. Less and less of a doctor’s interaction with patients is about the curing the patient and more and more is about curing the disease – often not the biggest problem. So, in my estimation, female doctors who have had children are actually more productive and better utilize resources (i.e. time with patients, pharmaceuticals, testing resources, hospital time, etc.) by addressing the patient than doctors who have not had that experience. You could call child bearing an additional training exercise to becoming a good doctor. It is certainly worth the cost to society. And like all training some will not make it – that is simply life.

    If women were paid a) for the extra training with which child-bearing imbues them and b) for time spent child bearing/raising as would be fair for the real cost in time and resources, then their wages would be equal or greater and their efforts would be realized as equal or greater.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. Coming from a small town in Northern, Ontario, Canada, I was surprised by the hard time given to any female doctor that came to our town. When I saw this I immediately changed doctors to a female doctor and have been with a female doctor ever since. The reason the male doctors make more money here is because they heard their patients through like cattle at an alarming rate. The female doctors actually spent time with you.
    Leslie

    Liked by 2 people

      • And it’s HEALTHIER to have less pressure. Maybe women doctors in general are less driven by making money and generally more compassionate than male doctors. Of course there are exceptions. I prefer female doctors, because this has been my experience in most cases.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I think we can at least express our compassion more freely and our pull to take care of our families does have us making different choices. Quality over quantity. That does not make men bad per se. Just different and different serves a purpose…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I want the best candidates in the programs and the best students to graduate, regardless of gender. I wouldn’t like to think that those “slots” go to someone with lower scores, eventually becoming my dr on the basis that he didn’t need a maternity leave. I would rather have a great female dr who took her “slot” and succeeded, took some time off and came back around to dr me. No thank you, sub-par dr.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. For over 12 years I had nothing but a female GP. The first one sold the practice to the second, and I just kept on going. Then I moved and ended up seeing another woman. The first two were great, the third just “eh.” That I didn’t like the third had nothing to do with her being a woman — it really that she was too young, and I wanted someone more my age.

    Now I’m seeing a man. He talks too much and likes to pontificate. But so far I can’t argue with his treatment, so I’m going to stay with him. I have to be a little more aggressive to speak and get my thoughts aired, which is not my style. That annoys me. But I find his approach to my care sound, so for now I’m fine with him in spite of his personality.

    All things being equal, I would still probably choose a woman. Why? I’ve just had better luck with them as physicians. I guess it’s all a crapshoot.

    Great post — very informative.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My client once told me this story.
    A father and his son were driving in a car. They were in a car accident and the son needed immediate medical attention. The dad rushed him to the hospital.
    The surgeon came in the room and took one look at the boy and said “I cannot operate on this boy because he is my son.”
    My client asked me, ” who is the surgeon?”

    My clever guess was that it was the child’s other gay dad. It was easier for my brain to come to that conclusion then to realize the surgeon was the boy’s mother: I thought I was so evolved and I was so embarrassed! It was such an eye opening moment for me and I dont really know how to fix it but I totally feel your frustration. I was appalled with myself!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I think it has historically been similar for the female lawyers coming out of law school, especially when beginning at a big law firm. They want to be taken seriously and having a baby with the requisite leave can interfere with that. However, in the 17+ years I’ve been with BigLaw I’ve seen that change. Multiple young associates take maternity OR paternity leave without repercussions to their careers. Of course it helps that many of BigLaw’s clients now request information on the firm’s diversity and gender equality before retaining us. When the client, especially a deep pocket client, wants to see you treating everyone more equally you make the extra effort to get their business..

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Equality is an ideal you are fed in our “modern Western society.”

    There is an issue though: define equality and make it work. Sometimes that is impossible. Equality as a standard is one thing but when someone is the the best and most competent, in practice that means someone is more than equal.

    There is one thing women in all professions should do in my opinion instead of being feminist: become the best and most competent at what you do and change your work environment to make it suit you.

    I am a man by the way. I value achievement more that a status or -ism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you. The battle to change the workplace is exhausting, I have to tell you. But I don’t want equality, as I said. I am not a man and I don’t want to be treated as one. 😉

      Like

      • Which I take to mean that you want only to be treated as a human being…that being the overall burden someone with a vagina seems to have to come to terms with as lessening their value in society. It is the pre-judgement based on anatomy that irritates me, the decision that because I don’t have a penis I am already an easy mark for marginalization by many men, and as you point out, many women as well.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. So, you don’t want equality, you want more? Are you a female chauvinist pig? Or is it that there are different ways to treat men and women that have nothing to do with equality? I’m a little confused, I guess, but I will admit that “equality” can be a vague term. What sort of specific changes would you make?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Loved your closing line of wanting more… I said something similar to a friend a couple of weeks ago as he thought all that women wanted was to be equal to men, that is not entirely true I told him… await for tomorrow’s post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Progress does not stop at equality there has to be more. Women like men also struggle to want to have more but the world is never wired to just give in to what we women want, seems like people are wired to give us a little bit of snug to get there.

    I agree with you, I also want more!

    Nice post by the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It frustrates me that this is the same everywhere in the world, in all professions 😦
    I’m certainly not a man-hater either, I know men have their own obstacles too. Why can’t here be mutual respect, as fellow humans? Oh well, I’m being idealistic again… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There was a time when women were the healers. They were revered and honored for their skills and knowledge. It was also a time when women went into battle and were warriors. They were the educators and they owned property and business along side of their male partners. No one thought anything was wrong with these practices until male dominated factions such as the Catholic and Anglican churches came into power…. Woman were a threat because they were a strong hold in the villages. And so they denounced them and called them Witches! And to this day we still call strong-willed women Witches. I take it as a compliment every time!
    Equity schmekity!

    Liked by 2 people

  18. great post! i’m fortunate not to have experienced much inequality in the 2 years i’ve been practicing. I have a female chief of psychiatry, female assistant medical director, and had a female medical director when i was hired. All of them are BOSS & highly respected. But did i experience disrespectful sexist comments in med school and training?? OMG, yes…and i took it because i felt inferior and scared and had to do a lot of self-reflection and work on myself to feel confident enough to never take that BS ever again. but like u said, sadly it still exists and we have to do a lot more work both personally & professionally to overcome it.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Personally, I think this kind of discrimination exists in every profession simply because of an inherent mindset – – men were raised to do certain jobs while women were raised to do other jobs. For example, if we look at the childcare/nanny, housekeeping, home health aide, nursing, or daycare professions we’ll see that these areas are dominated by women and of late men are breaking through and demanding respect, equality and consideration as would be given to women.

    My daughter’s daycare is owned by a man! And when my family and friends heard of this oddity they immediately went to the dark side – – “what if this guy is a pedophile? ” In all honesty, my mind has gone there too, so I’m extra vigilant that she tells me all about her day at school not just because I’m a little nervous about the owner but that I’m also aware not just men are pedophiles! Sadly, that’s the world we live in now, and I’m just doing the best I can to stay one step ahead.

    Doc, I’m guessing this struck you pretty hard because you walked the straight line and worked hard for your achievements and take pride in your work and have good work ethics. I’ve come across both good and bad male and female doctors. For me, what makes a good doctor is someone who takes the time to ‘actually’ listen to the patient. Trigger happy docs who are just ready to write a prescription because they are in deep with the pharmaceutical companies are ones to stay away from, in my opinion. I’m starting to think that I’m a Guinea pig after a visit I had just this month (see my post ‘May Cause Weight Gain’) . The doctor, a female, was very friendly, but never let me finish a complete thought, but was very eager to have me try this new drug on the market. She discussed the findings of some scans I had done so I assumed what she told me was true, but as is protocol, I was given a copy of the report to read at my leisure, and when I did was amazed that what she told me in the office what not what was written in the report! Imagine my horror!! I now feel I need to have another doctor look this over and I have to do some serious research on this medication. I usually don’t like being the first to try anything whether it be medication or technology – – I rather wait and have all the little kinks worked out first.

    Doc, sorry you had to hear that this discrimination exists first hand (with your own ears), I think that’s why it struck such a deep chord. Our society is so numb that things don’t become ‘real’ until it happens to us. Thanks for bring it to light so we can all voice our opinion. Blessings to you and yours…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Data shows that female physicians are burning out at a faster rate than men (I talked about that in another post). Women in leadership roles anywhere are more likely to feel depression and isolation. I have struggled with it, too. It doesn’t have to be that way. Not for me, not for anyone else…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can totally see the burnout factor being an issue. I woke up this morning knowing fully well that I was exhausted more than usual simply because my schedule this month is a bit off, busy one week, slow the next. I feel better working 3-4 days per week so I have to off days to handle housework and other appointments so I can fully rest on the weekend.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. This is not exactly the same but related: one of my daughter’s teachers, who was African-American, told me that African-American parents were often displeased that their children had been assigned to her classroom; they wanted a white teacher. The cultural bias triumphs.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: My Article Read (3-18-2015) | My Daily Musing

  22. In my sister’s graduating med. school class (University of Toronto), over 40% were women.

    Medicine has given my sister the financial ability to work part-time …she is married with 2 children under ages 8 yrs. But this works, if one plans, saves and pays back debts prior to children.

    I haven’t yet asked about sexism amongst her colleagues. All I know, is some are less ethical than others.

    Liked by 1 person

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