CHICAGO, IL – Women across America are bravely sharing their stories of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination under the #metoo hashtag movement. Despite women now comprising over 50% of the incoming medical students, sexual harassment is still prevalent in medicine as well. So, GomerBlog reached out to its token lady author, Dr. Amy G Dala, for some advice for women in medicine to avoid #metoo in medicine. Here are some tips:
Don’t be too quiet. Men dominate conversations, often cutting women off. Women in medicine need to learn to speak up, contribute equally to conversations, and avoid being too quiet and shy.
Don’t be too loud. Men feel threatened by strong, outspoken women. So don’t be too loud, lest you set yourself up for harassment by men intimidated by your power.
Don’t be too pretty. Men are naturally attracted to beautiful women, so it is your obligation to hide your beauty if present. Wear your hair up, but not in a sexy, messy pony kind of way. In a librarian kind of way. But not in a naughty librarian kind of way; that could invite unwanted attention as well. If you wear contact lenses, consider changing to glasses. But also not in a naughty librarian kind of way, obviously.
Don’t be too ugly. It won’t protect you from sexual harassment, and will just make you less pleasant to leer at.
Don’t be too tall. If you are already tall, do not wear high heels. They will make you even taller and more threatening, and draw attention to your legs. Instead, slouch over when you are around men shorter than you, so they will not feel inferior. But do not slouch too much or your mother will yell at you to stand up straight.
Don’t be too short. Women that are shorter than men are asking for harassment since they are smaller and obviously not able to defend themselves. Wear heels to appear taller, but not sexy high heels (see naughty librarian, above).
You can’t be too friendly. Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Being polite, kind, friendly, and endearing should be sufficient to shield you from unwanted sexual assault.
Don’t be too friendly. Keeping a healthy distance between you and your colleagues should be sufficient to shield you from unwanted sexual assault.
Don’t specialize in anything to do with kids, or babies, or families. People will think that you are only interested in having babies or kids or families. You want people to take you seriously, and think that you are going to continue to work, and not just have babies and families.
Do not specialize in anything that requires going into the dark, like radiology, or the basement, like pathology. These dark, isolated spaces suggest to men that you enjoy hanging out in dark, isolated spaces, inviting sexual harassment.
Do not specialize in traditionally male-dominated specialties, like surgery. That’s just asking for trouble, silly.
If someone harasses you, do not confront them. Instead, diffuse the situation with humor, making them your ally and friend. Men, obviously, are less likely to harass their friends.
If someone harasses you, speak up. Even if it means potential retaliation, humiliation, and the possibility that no one will even believe you. It is crucial that women in medicine facing discrimination and sexual harassment, speak up. If your direct supervisor doesn’t believe you, keep going up the chain of command until someone listens to you, or your spirit is completely broken and dead inside.
Hope these tips help women in medicine avoid #metoo! Make sure you share your tips with us as well.