Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My She-roes

“Because women's work is never done and is underpaid or unpaid or boring or repetitious and we're the first to get fired and what we look like is more important than what we do and if we get raped it's our fault and if we get beaten we must have provoked it and if we raise our voices we're nagging bitches and if we enjoy sex we're nymphos and if we don't we're frigid and if we love women it's because we can't get a "real" man and if we ask our doctor too many questions we're neurotic and/or pushy and if we expect childcare we're selfish and if we stand up for our rights we're aggressive and "unfeminine" and if we don't we're typical weak females and if we want to get married we're out to trap a man and if we don't we're unnatural and because we still can't get an adequate safe contraceptive but men can walk on the moon and if we can't cope or don't want a pregnancy we're made to feel guilty about abortion and...for lots of other reasons we are part of the women's liberation movement.”
~Author unknown, quoted in The Torch, 14 September 1987

There are so many things I love about Obstetrics and Gynecology. I love catching babies and bringing new life into the world. I love the operating room and being able to see the human body in a way that most people never do. I love the relationship building between me and my patients. I love the potential to make great change in the lives of women.

But, above all, I love being surrounded day in and day out with so many women that just plain kick ass.

I’ve always known this at some level, but this realization hit me head on at a leadership conference for my hospital last week. The audience was filled with women who are committed to promoting women's health in various capacities. We had research experts, nationally renowned OB/GYN specialists, academic generalists, hospital administrators, midwives, pharmacists, and primary care champions. The list goes on and on.

As I sat in this ballroom, I noticed an amazing energy in the room. I was surrounded by women who I know to be brilliant, successful, and highly skilled. They speak their minds. They don't take no for an answer, they stand up for what they believe in, and they are not to be trifled with. They relish in their determination, not in their docility. They are women of all different races, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Some are fresh out of residency or fellowship, some have been practicing longer than I’ve been alive. Yet, every one of them is excited, eager to learn, and passionate about the work that they do. I looked around and thought with pride – we are women caring for women.

I know in the grand scheme of things, we have a long way to go in the world of gender equality. This is particularly so in the field of Medicine. Throughout my four years as a medical student, the vast majority of department chairs and tenured faculty were men. In fact, only 3 women pop into my head as leaders within their departments.

You can imagine my excitement then, to be part of this residency microcosm now, in which women can do absolutely anything a man can do (maybe better!). Looking around me, I can’t help but feel that there is nothing that I cannot do. We are a group of powerful and unstoppable women who are working everyday to make other women powerful and unstoppable too.

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