Today, my social media accounts are flooded with empowering posts for International Womens Day. I am particularly struggling on this day. I am a passionate advocate for women, inclusion, diversity and equality, but this week, I am tired.
I am tired of the perpetual need to defend my expertise. I am tired of being asked how old I am because I do not look ‘old enough’ to be an attending. I am tired of the demeaning manner in which I am too often treated, as though I am a child and not a successful woman. I am tired of the assumption that motherhood somehow negates my career potential. And, I am tired because I observe so many similar scenarios among my friends, colleagues and coworkers.
Recently, I was acutely reminded yet again of how far we still have to go. After seeing a patient in the hospital and relaying my updates to the nurse, I was asked to repeat who I was. After identifying myself again as the attending physician on the team, I was further asked to clarify this despite showing my badge, noting my name on the chart and finally, ending with leaving to see my next patient, uncertain that I was believed.
Often, if I share such stories, I see looks of disbelief. If I raise the idea that we still have significant gender bias in medicine, based on endless stories such as this or the frank published evidence in the medical literature, I am a disruptor. Being a disruptor can certainly be a lonely place; but whether I am weary or not, whether I am discriminated against or not, I do know that nothing changes if we do not call it out. If we do not raise awareness to the unconscious biases, the stereotypes and the flat out discrimination. Disruption is necessary to fuel change.
Yet, some days, even warriors are weary.
To the women and men working endlessly for equality, I know it does not come ‘tirelessly’.
Thank you. Keep on my friends, weary or not, warriors we remain.