The idea that medicine is above sexism is false—and destructive

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  • I love you says:

    I love you

  • Lauren Smith says:

    The arrogance in this article does nothing to help your argument. Try being a female patient who isn’t being listened to. Try suffering for years on end with doctors just brushing you off. And I hate to break it to you but the women doctors were just as bad as the men.

  • Robbyn says:

    Shannon, it’s so good to hear of a Dr taking an interest in helping a patient and I’m so sorry you had that experience. I understand you worked hard for your career! I believe sexism is also directed toward female patients too, like we don’t know our bodies or what we’re talking about. I’ve recently dealt with a Dr who refused to listen to me, but instead talked over me and said “you’re depressed and obese, here, take these pills and follow this diet (consisting of rice cake and sugar free jello) and you’ll be fine in no time. I attempted numerous times to discuss my diet with her, which is excellent if she’d take the time to listen, instead of telling me she lies on her diary when she puts her food in. If she had listened to why I was down, she would have known that in 6 months, I lost a cat, my mom and then another cat (the 2nd cat saved my life …. another story for another day). She didn’t want to hear any of that. She didn’t listen when I reminded her I had lost 250lbs on my own 12 years ago and kept it off until 18 months ago when the scale began creeping up. She didn’t listen when I reminded her that I was a powerlifter and that my body is not made to be 120 lbs, but at 150 I look and feel awesome and now at 180 I am miserable. She didn’t listen when I told her I feel like I’m pregnant because my belly is constantly bloated and instead she said “that’s what Bean-o is for”. She didn’t listen when I asked her to stop and listen. I left there crying and feeling worse than I went in. Stop discounting women! We are smart, strong and powerful and we know what we’re talking about!! I am STILL struggling to find a doctor who doesn’t look at me like a textbook patient to help me feel better and get back on track.

  • Janet Johnson RN says:

    Thank you for a terrific article.
    I am a middle aged woman with a sensitivity about how I am perceived and treated. I’m also not very tall.
    This article has reminded me to mind my own perceptions, biases and behavior in response to gender, race, culture differences (and height and other conscious or unconscious judgments based on appearance.) Do I treat female physicians differently than males physicians? I will start by checking myself.

  • Anita says:

    What a shame. I have a wonderful female vascular surgeon. I trust her with my life. I had a male doctor and he was so arrogant! She even showed up and did my angioplasty procedure. Sorry guys!

  • Helen Roberts says:

    Sure there’s still sexism and racism in medicine and we need to tackle it, but is there a touch of ‘oh doctors are more important then other people ?’ here. Why is it so worrying to be mistaken for a physio ? or – in the comment below, a porter ? Why is a nurse wrong to think that someone spending a good amount of time talking to a patient might be a doctor friend passing by to say hello than there as a treating physician- friends can be doctors too …. Good for you to keep on keeping on with challenging inequalities, but beware of another kind of inequality. ‘These are the hands’ is a poem Michael Rosen wrote a decade ago celebrating 60 years of the NHS in the UK, It’s a heartwarming reminder of the role that everyone plays – from the midwife to the mortuary attendant. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2008/dec/04/nhs-health. Even better if you google Rosen reading it himself.

  • Dan says:

    I was mistaken for the patient’s porter for transportation… I was wearing a stethoscope and ID badge too.

  • Flavia Sendi-Mukasa, PGY1 says:

    I wholeheartedly appreciate the acknowledgment of the struggles faced by female physicians of colour. I can’t tell you how many times people are surprised that I’m the doctor, and it’s tiring.

  • Joy Dobson, MD, FRCP, CCPE says:

    Unfortunately too true. We have a long way to go still to complete the work started by the suffragettes!



Shannon Ruzycki


Shannon Ruzycki is a physician doing specialty training in general internal medicine at the University of Calgary and is the co-chair for the University of Calgary’s Department of Medicine Gender Equity Task Force.

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