gender bias

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Globe On Gender Bias In The OR: Subtle But Persistent

Don’t miss this important story by the Boston Globe’s Liz Kowalczyk on persistent gender bias (subtle and sometimes not so) in the operating room.

Following news of a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit that earlier this month ended with a massive $7 million settlement against Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and its former chief of surgery, Kowalczyk reports that bias against female surgeons still exists but it tends to be more under-the-radar and potentially insidious. After interviewing 10 female surgeons, she offers some examples:

–A female surgeon pointedly asks why her patient is late being wheeled into the operating room, and is accused by nurses of being too aggressive.

–Surgeons meet weekly at 7 a.m. at one hospital, just when some of their female colleagues are home getting their children dressed and fed.

– And several female neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons said women in these overwhelmingly male specialties often feel they must work longer hours and operate on more patients than their male colleagues to prove they belong.

…Still, female surgeons can experience subtler obstacles, including pressure to behave a certain way and conflicting family responsibilities.

I’ll add two more Boston doctor anecdotes to this list. First, one longtime neurologist recently told me she happened to discover she was earning far less than her male counterparts. Second, a general surgeon I know, who, after taking off several years to care for a young child, returned to the job market. At one interview, she was asked what her husband did for work. When she replied that he’s a manager in the financial sector, the interviewer responded (and I paraphrase here), Oh, well, then you don’t need to work.

Kowalczyk reports that gender bias within the medical arena these days generally doesn’t include sexist comments or a Mad-Men-like milieu. Rather, it tends to involve fewer promotions and recognition, particularly if you’re on the Mommy track: Continue reading