Ep 1: Is sexism within the health care community dead?

According to the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), as of 2017, there were 4,597 female physicians compared to 3,010 male physicians under 35 years of age in Canada. This is compared to 2,581 female physicians and 10,301 physicians above the age of 65 in Canada in 2017. Could it be that medicine is a more socially acceptable career for women today than it was 50 years ago? If so, does that mean that there is less sexism rooted within society today that previously discouraged women from becoming doctors? Perhaps not.

In the pilot episode of the “Speculum” podcast, I discuss sexism within the medical community with three of my female colleagues. Within this episode we cover situations in which we have experienced sexism during or related to our medical training, including before medical school, within the classroom setting, and out-and-about in the medical community (ie. In hospitals, general practitioner’s offices, etc.)

Perhaps sexism is not dead in the world of medicine. What do you think we can do about that?

Disclaimer: There are moments in this podcast where the participants fall into cis-normative language.  This was purely by accident and there was no intention to exclude or offend people that do not identify as cisgender. Apologies in advance.

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  1. Excellent program. So many topics of interest to me. Will limit my comments to two topics. Found the discussion around female medical students being pigeon holed into the role of nurses solely because of gender…..sad. What I was hearing was that although female medical students respect nurses it is important for their co-workers and clients to recognize the advanced level of care medical students provide. And so you should. But…how on earth do you divine the respect you deserve without seeming to discredit the RN standing beside you. As an RN of more than 30 years I can tell you that I respect your knowledge and recognize you as the leader of the team. When someone goes into Respiratory arrest in my clinic I can do certain things. I stop the drug…give adrenalin, benadryl, steroid, and maintain an airway…by now I am looking to a physician. I know my stuff, but by god, I am glad when the physician walks through the door. All eyes now turn to you. Now we work as a team…but you are the one throwing out the orders and I am the one carrying them out. I wouldn’t want to stand in those shoes, not for a million bucks. Your years of education and residency qualify you straight out of school to be the leader of the team. If someone mistakes you for an RN because you are a female correct them. Perhaps you could say…”I have known and worked with some amazing nurses but my chosen path is that of a physician”. No nurse would ever take offense to something said like that. And somehow saying it in this way lets your client, your aunt, your dentist…know that you aspire to a higher level of medicine that deserves their respect.

    Secondly…I love our male physicians that wear bright orange holey soles and scrubs that their mom’s sewed for them. They are considered real characters. But you are right. Why do female physicians always dress nicely? Are they so uncomfortable in the hospital setting that they need to dress the part? I have never met a “funky” dressed female physician. They are always neat and tidy and professional. I realize as students you are constrained by some sort of dress code … but once you are physicians I hope to see you at Kootenay Lake Hospital in a tye dyed T shirt and comfortable shoes.

    Loved the podcast.


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