Welcome to the first “blog”-ish type post of the website! I thought I’d dive right in and go on a bit of a tangent. So, here we go!
I’m sure at this point you’ve heard about the recent comment made by Dr. Tigges in the Dallas Medical Journal. If not, you can read about it here and here. When I first read it, I honestly thought “Oh, look an internet troll”. Then I realized it was an actual physician who had submitted this to a journal as his real opinion. While the topic of gender inequality in the workforce seems a bit repetitive, we apparently need to keep having the conversation because people aren’t getting it.
Today, I wanted to share a bit of my experience witnessing gender inequality in nursing and healthcare in general, not to in any way victimize my experiences, because honestly, I’ve had it easy, but to make you aware that this is still a problem. Today. In 2018.
Now, I will say, I’ve been incredibly fortunate, and in the grand scheme of things, I have never felt “held back” because I was born with a uterus. I have, however, been asked in almost every interview for school or work, how I planned to balance my family and school or work. When I was interviewing for NP school, I had a 60-minute interview. We spent 15 of those talking about my game plan for how I planned on managing my husband, house, school and work. Is that really what we should have been focusing on? And, while I get it, I need to know how to balance all of that, NONE of the men in my program were asked that.
Also, fun fact: Joe has never been asked in an interview how he will manage handling me, and our household and a new job.
When I told my school I was pregnant during my NP program, they urged me to drop out for a year. Take time for my family. I was told I needed to “think of my family” and my “place was with my baby”. Interestingly, when a few male NP students welcomed new babies into their families during the program, they were congratulated and told how this should motivate them to work harder to finish. But, I should quit. These were women, professional women, encouraging me to quit their own program, so I could stay home with my daughter.
I’ve seen it countless times while working in the hospital. The female resident would come in, and the patient would address them as a nurse or ask to speak to the male resident. Male residents were almost always assumed to be more senior and knowledgeable than the female ones. The female providers were screamed at by patients and families far more frequently than the males, both inpatient and out.
I’ve had conversations with coworkers who think they should be paid more at our bedside nursing jobs because they feel they get asked to lift patients more often because they are men. I’m sure they wouldn’t be thrilled if I pointed out maybe I should be paid more because I have coached dozens of his patients about breastfeeding because they hadn’t figure out how to lactate yet. We all bring unique and wonderful things to the table; let’s celebrate that diversity rather than go looking for flaws in our peers.
Unfortunately, this problem isn’t unique to healthcare. The entire way our society views family responsibility is so skewed. When Avery was in daycare, Joe was listed as the first person to call if anything was going on, because I was in clinic and wouldn’t be available. Every. Single. Time. They called me first. When I asked them about it, their response “Well, we always call mom first. It just makes sense.”
Why does that make sense? Why is it so deeply engrained in our thought process that women are the ones in “charge” of all things domestic.
I work part time. Almost everyone I encounter assumes it’s because I’m the “mom”, and therefore, I wanted to stay home some of the time.
Here’s the reality of the situation.
Joe and I wanted one of us to work part time to be more present with our daughter and to get some “house” stuff done and could enjoy our actual time off together doing family things on weekends rather than vacuuming. Joe’s job doesn’t allow for him to work part time. My job did allow me to go part time. So, here we are. I am ever so grateful that I have the option to do that, and I love my time at home with my daughter. But I get tiny seeds of anger when people assume I’m the one at home because of my gender.
I fight my mini battles here and there, and I hope you will to! Remind people the baby’s dad is an equal in the parenting team and is a totally viable option to contact first or make decisions. If you are hiring people, ask both men AND women how they plan to balance work, school and family. Spout praises to your patients about how wonderful both the male AND female providers are.
And gentlemen, please remember, I do not think this is your fault. I think this is a problem that is perpetuated by both men and women in and out of the field. As I mentioned, a lot of my experiences were brought on by women, not men!
So, I just ask that everyone be aware. It’s OK to talk to men about their families, just like it’s wonderful to ask women how their latest career accomplishments are shaking out. Encourage dads to take paternity leave and support women whether they want to stay at home with their new babies or return to the workforce quickly.
Have you guys experienced anything like this? Let me know over on my Instagram post! I think it’s something that need we to be aware of, not for the sake of complaining, but so we can make little changes and not have to keep talking about this over and over! Rant over 🙂