A university may claim that 55% of their department heads and administrators are women. But closer evaluation shows that 94% of the clinical science departments at that university are chaired by men. That can, unfortunately, lead to propagation of poor gender policies.
Explore This IssueApril 2018
Not only are we paid less, but women are far more likely than men to run the home and spend greater than 20 hours per week on home care work. Women are more likely to be involved in evening and weekend childcare, and women are far, far more likely to be primarily responsible for the care of a sick child (89% compared with 14%) (Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2004;130:695–702). With less pay, more unpaid and unrecognized work, and near-daily avoidance of some type of harassment, one might assume that women provide suboptimal care. That would be wrong.
Women demonstrate better adherence to guidelines and yield greater patient satisfaction. Federal data demonstrated that female hospitalists tended to provide higher-quality care than males. The analysis went so far as to suggest that if all physicians were female, 32,000 fewer Medicare patients might die annually. Patients treated by female surgeons had a decrease in 30-day mortality compared with those treated by males (JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177:206–213).
Women across the U.S. and the world are saying, “me too,” and opening up about discrimination and assault. A 2010 article in ENTtoday asked, “The Female Question: Should More Be Done to Increase the Ranks of Female Otolaryngologists?” (ENTtoday, May 2010). I would argue, “Yes,” that women belong in otolaryngology, that diverse teams result in better patient outcomes and clinical and research programs, and that the visibility of women in leadership and mentorship positions will only advance our field.
But, this cannot be accomplished organically. We need our colleagues, male and female, to see what is often smack in front of their faces, to call out what is wrong, and to encourage what is right.
The Virginia Slims ad on p. 8 is from 1970s. Unfortunately, only a small tweak to the headline of the old newspaper clip included in the ad, so that it reads “Otolaryngology Allows Women to Lead” and the removal of the cigarette (replaced with a scalpel, an endoscope or a drill?), are needed to render this pertinent today. Begrudging acceptance is not the same as a wholehearted welcome. It is not universal, but it is the mindset that we need to change. Now. Then we will indeed have come a long way, baby.