If men don’t mentor women in medicine, where does that leave us?


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10 comments

  1. Phil

    I wish Healthy Debate would stop with the MD-centric articles. Physicians (irrespective of gender) enjoy a certain level of privilege in society. While I don’t doubt gender equity rears its head for physicians, these sort of articles come across as doctors with privilege whining.

    A more interesting article- Debate the history of power dynamics between physicians and nursing (a more feminized profession), and how that has influenced MD turf protection with scope protection against NPs.

    • Georgina A.

      Phil —
      Respectfully, your comment perfectly encapsulates the major threat to advancing the broader gender and racial equity agenda that (I assume) we both support. Specifically, the never ending battle of whom among us is truly the most marginalized or victimized helps nobody. Of course we should examine the power differential between nurses and physicians (I am an RN), but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the issues our physician colleagues who are women face. If you work in healthcare, I have no doubt you have seen every instance the author describes. Why should we not want to support our colleagues and take down power barriers for all? And why is acknowledging their barriers mutually exclusive to tackling the MD / RN / NP power structures?

      So let’s stop trying to outflank one another to highlight who can claim the most non-privileged bonafides, end the tribalism, and fight for equity for all.

      To the author: thank you for your piece. It was a great read.

  2. John Van Aerde

    Toward equity:
    Be aware of and manage fear
    Remain vigilant regarding mental models, assumptions, and beliefs
    Practise the skills of real dialogue
    Create psychological safety
    Make interactions relationship-centred
    Can J Physician Leadership 5(2), 2018
    https://bit.ly/2EyDKJm

  3. Cynthia

    Thank you for this thoughtful piece! I agree that we must foster a professional, respectful and nurturing culture to inspire more women in leadership. I agree that there should be more coaching opportunities from experienced leaders and mentors. But ultimately, we are all leaders within our own scope – to voice, to advocate, to inspire. We should all follow our own moral compass to determine the kind of leader we want to become.

  4. Dan Bilsker

    The true rate of unfounded complaints is critical here as it will determine the rationality of mentor anxiety and avoidance. The rate of 2-4 % cited here is for an utterly different context, namely unfounded rape accusations to police. I don’t know whether accurate information exists on the rate of unfounded accusations of sexual impropriety on the part of mentors, but it is essential to know.

  5. Kath

    I am mid career and had fantastic male mentors although have and still face a significant amount of sexism. Despite my PhD supervisors being adorable men they took my male trainee colleagues sailing whilst I was never invited. Lots of gendered reasons for this – perhaps their wives would have frowned, perhaps they were uncomfortable socially with girls, or maybe they didn’t think I could pull my weight, maybe they were concerned for my husbands feelings…… no biggie but I did notice. It is going to take a generation or two to change that.

  6. Adam Smith

    Excellent article. Indeed, the fear by a man of a false allegation is a form of misogyny. It shows an inherent mistrust of women.

    It’s like the “gay panic defence” sometimes used by heterosexual men accused of assault against gay men. “I was so fearful that the gay dude was coming onto me that I had to hit him in self-defense

  7. Daniel Turissini

    The 2%-8% statistic is one often cited by feminists; it does not represent reality. Those are the cases that are PROVEN false. It is extremely difficult to prove an allegation of harassment or sexual assault as being false or a lie. More often, the man in question finds his reputation in tatters and career destroyed with no recourse or method of salvaging his life. This is what men are afraid of, and to ignore it as simple sexism on their part will do nothing to alleviate this problem, which is only going to get worse.

    Repeat that statistic as many times as you want. Men know better. We know that we’re one accusation of being destroyed and that our accuser will be immediately believed regardless of our past reputation and conduct.

    • Adrian

      Exactly! Not every man is a rapist, but women are still cautious about being raped, as they should be. Similarly, we men are cautious about being falsely accused of rape, as we should be. The author of this article lacks the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective.

  8. Adrian

    Doesn’t matter if “only” 2-8% of rape accusations are false. Anything above 0% warrants caution. If you want men to take on the risk of mentoring women, offer them a reward for it. Otherwise, don’t complain if they have no incentive to do so.

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