1.) What are some signs within an ACGME approved residency program that I may as a female resident be faced in future with gender discrimination? 

Look at the number of female faculty within the department with positions of power. How many are heads of faculty, program directors, chairman etc? How many are part time faculty, associate or assistant faculty? 

Look at the percentage of female residents within the department for each post graduate year. 

Look at where the female residents ended up practicing. 

What are the questions that both male and female faculty are asking you as a female resident? Are they asking if you have a boyfriend, husband, planning on having children or commenting on your appearance or attire? 

Look at the percentage of residents who graduate the program and the turn over rates of residents and faculty within that department. 

2.) Should I chose a “female friendly” specialty? 

Female friendly is a euphemism for supposed time flexibility for women to be mothers as well as work. This is because when women are married with children they take on additional several hours of unpaid work each week. Gender discrimination occurs in all specialties but less when the power structure is not hierarchical and men are a minority.

The term female friendly unfortunately reinforces gender roles because it automatically assumes that women will take on unpaid domestic labor which is replaced by reproductive power in the form of motherhood. In contrast, the reproductive power of fatherhood does not get exchanged for less pay. It has been shown when women get married employers pay them less and promote them less. When men get married employers pay them more and promote them more. This is due to the unequal division of domestic labor within parenting. Women are expected by employers to do a much larger portion of unpaid domestic labor than their husbands and employers see married men as more controllable. This is particularly what is deduced by employers when married employees have children. 

Women should be allowed to chose a specialty based on their curiosity, not based upon whether or not they want to be mothers. What a female friendly specialty should mean, is one in which no gender roles are economically enforced.

3.) What do you think is key for women to succeed in a male dominated specialty? 

Having access to mentors who are enthusiastic to work with female residents and open to working with them just as is the case for any specialty. The learning curve in residency is so great that not having mentors puts lower levels at a huge disadvantage if they have had no prior experience.

4.) When do you think it is a good time to retain a lawyer during residency as a female?

Knowing what I know about the culture of medicine and the way it treats women physicians during residency and beyond, I would advise all female residents to retain a lawyer upon entry into residency. You are already 1/4 to 1/2 a million in debt by that point, to have that all be lost due to being harassed at some point in your career is not worth the risk. This is particularly true of residency as lateral mobility within residency programs is almost non existent and if you are being targeted within the program then it becomes impossible. 

5.) Why is documentation so important for gender discrimination cases? 

Civil rights employment law firms, the ones who represent plaintiffs, are not as well funded as employment law firms that represent employers who are the defendants. This is especially true for wealthy hospitals and academic medical centers as the majority have their own in house legal team who are not afraid to play hard ball and drain the plaintiff’s legal funds. The stronger the evidence, the more financial risk a civil rights law firm will be willing to take because they think there is a greater chance of winning and less money will be spent on subpoenas and depositions as the plaintiff already has the documentation on hand.

6.) Why should I choose Resident Bolde to help? 

I have had personal experience with gender discrimination in a very male dominated specialty of medicine and have learned first hand the variety of forms that it takes. I filed an EEOC charge against the residency program I trained in. Gender discrimination was determined after 4 years of their investigation. The determination of reasonable cause only happens in 3.5% of EEOC discrimination complaints. I have gone through the process of searching for legal representation and know the financial costs that can be involved depending on the amount and quality of evidence collected. 

While sexual harassment is one symptom of the patriarchy,  it is actually not the most powerful form as it is easy to recognize and call out. The casual covert disempowering dynamics female residents and physicians face everyday are in the long run far more powerful in preventing women from progressing in the medical profession. These are not called out on partly because there is a lack of social awareness and appropriate discourse within the hierarchical power structure of the medical profession to recognize it and stop it. It is these behaviors that disempower female physicians forcing them to work even harder for less professional impact and pay. I know the language female residents can use to articulate themselves well to call out such covert behaviors. 

7.) How should I chose a residency program?

Chose the residency program where you think the faculty and residents will support your growth. It is wise to presume all residency programs are a toxic work environment due to the nature of the business model these programs are trying to train doctors for. The larger the business with larger administrative overhead and patient volume, the more abused the residents are at risk of becoming. Also take into consideration the state the residency program is located as not all states apply their civil rights equally due to cultural values. For example, it is still legal for husbands to drug and rape their wives in Ohio as of 2018 and changes to this law did not get many signatures by state legislators. The argument against changing the exemption is due to poor evidence and it becomes a he said, she said situation.

8.) How do I get started? 

Send an email through the Contact page to get in touch. All communication is kept confidential and is not shared with third parties unless you give express written permission.

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