"Sometimes authority should be worn lightly. But sometimes it should be brandished like a torch.’”
You may have heard about the recent article from the New York Times where writer Julia Baird brings gender biases women face in todays society to light. This topic has really hit home for me. Throughout out my career as a female foot and ankle surgeon, I have seen my fair share of gender bias, whether it be from hospital staff or patients. Being called "baby" or "sweetie" by patients is just not something that our male colleagues have to endure.
As a female surgeon, understanding microagressions and biases can be frustrating and sadly, sometimes I have become accustomed to it. At first, it was something I just kind of ignored and didn’t think much of. Often times I made excuses for the other person, and sometimes I just wanted to avoid a confrontation. Too often women are told they are “too bossy” instead of assertive. You may think women are over thinking this, but a study has shown that women are addressed by their title less than half the time!
As time went on, I discussed this issue with some of my female friends with advanced degrees and it became clear to me that this issue was not unique to me or even to the medical field. I was surprised to hear that nearly all of them had experienced similar situations at some point in their careers. All of this seems to indicate strongly that we women are not overstating the issue: with the SAME hard work, women are getting treated differently, still in 2018!
So what does it mean to own your title? Demanding the respect for the hard work you put in to achieve your degree! Whether you are a physician, lawyer, PhD, etc. you have worked hard to get to this point! So why should you be credited for it less than our male colleagues? The #ownyourtitle campaign highlights the hardwork of women who too often go unrecognized.
Enduring these struggles has made me a better physician and overall a stronger person. I now proudly brandish my authority and will not allow it to be minimized. Overall, I think it is important to keep the conversation going as it is vital to allow for change. Furthermore, there’s a lot of work to be done and it is our responsibility to reshape the way society views female leaders. We must all - male and female - work together to change the narrative.