Rude comments and bottom slaps: The things female doctors put up with (Washington Post)
After five years of working in academic medicine, I recently gave notice that I’m resigning my full-time faculty role. There were several reasons for this decision—the biggest being that I love my coaching work and want to do more of it!—but I would be lying if I said that culture wasn't a contributing factor.
Medicine is, by design, incredibly hierarchical—which isn’t entirely bad (for example, I wouldn’t want a medical student leading my surgical team). But the truth is that hierarchy—coupled with a lack of accountability, a long legacy of sexism, and serious consequences for speaking out—can be toxic.
I’m sad to say that this article felt very familiar. I’ve heard countless stories similar to those shared within. Stories of pregnant women who were asked to front-load their shifts while pregnant to “pay off” their maternity leave, women physicians of color who were confused with cleaning staff, and female nurses who were sexualized by patients. Certainly, there are people, internal to the system, who are trying to change things. But that change is all too slow.
PS, If you want a deeper dive on this topic, I wrote an article about the unique exhaustion of healthcare moms during the pandemic.
When I found out I was having a boy, I was overcome with a tremendous sense of responsibility. It’s no small feat to raise a boy who is kind, empathic, and sensitive in a world that tells him to be hard, aggressive, and unfeeling. I appreciated this article about the importance of staying emotionally close to our sons as they grow up.
Much of the work of parenting a boy, especially as he gets older, is to build and maintain a strong enough relationship with him, so he knows he has an affirming place to turn when he feels tense, angry, fearful, or otherwise upset. A place where he is known and loved. These relationships are the foundation of a boy’s ability to resist all of the potentially harmful temptations and pressures of our modern culture.
What employers can do to make childbirth safer in the U.S. (Harvard Business Review)
When I see articles like this published in outlets like HBR, I am hopeful that we’re making progress. The author, Dr. Jeff Levin-Sherz, calls on employers—who pay for more than half of deliveries in the US—to demand accountability for health plans for maternal and infant outcomes. Some concrete recommendations include:
Improving benefits to cover doula and midwife care, postpartum mental health support, and virtual care and coaching.
Providing information about hospital quality of care, including C-section rates for low-risk women.
Providing accurate and timely reporting on the quality of care provided to employees and their dependents.
Though this article is about discussing beauty standards with kids, the themes are broadly applicable. It’s so tempting to tell our kids the messages we wish were true (e.g., “it’s what’s on the inside that counts”, “the way you look isn’t important”), but—sadly—the world is more complicated than that. As Elise Hu writes: “I wanted my kids to resist the tyranny of vanity: the way it excludes people, makes them anxious, and encourages them to labor constantly. I also didn’t want to misrepresent how society operates.”
So, what’s a parent to do? According to Hu:
My reporting dug up various strategies. For example, compliment young people for their curiosity or imagination, not their looks. Help them understand the social-media photo filters and AI effects they encounter online. Show them art and other media with a diversity of bodies. But most experts came back to one overarching piece of parenting advice: Care less about your own appearance.
How to complain at work the right way and get ahead (Wall Street Journal)
Have a problem at work? “Grin and bear it” often turns into “sitting and stewing”—which is both ineffective and potentially toxic. At the same time, you don’t want to be viewed as a chronic complainer. This article offers strategies for raising concerns at work. Some key suggestions:
Take concerns up the chain, instead of complaining to peers. A recent study found that venting to peers about a work issue resulted in a 10% decline in performance, while talking about the same issue with a supervisor led to a 15% increase in performance.
Pick your battles. Not every issue needs to be raised with your supervisor. Use discretion when deciding which issues need supervisor involvement.
Offer solutions. By identifying potential solutions, you’re helping your manager help you. Make sure you’ve thought through some potential resolutions before you raise the problem.
This month’s “connect”may seem untraditional, since very few people associate chores with connection, but hear me out! The household division of labor is always a hot topic—particularly when both parents work outside the house. Of course it’s important for couples to continually reflect and communicate about equitable division of tasks (see Fair Play for one model), but it’s also important to instill a culture of helping in your home that extends to your kids. See, a household in which everyone makes a consistent and active contribution helps build community and reduces feelings of resentment—both of which help with connection.
The Washington Post recently published this guide to developmentally-appropriate chores for kids, and I encourage you to think through ways that you can start delegating more tasks to your kids. Taking things off your plate while fostering a sense of competence in your kids? A win-win!
A client said something profound during a coaching session this week and, with her permission, I’m sharing it with you. Between a high-stress job and parenting three young kids, she rarely has time to herself. The time she does have often isn’t as restorative as she would like it to be. She told me: “I want rest to feel more restful”.
She then went on to describe how she feels so depleted at the end of each day, that by the time she puts her kids to bed, she usually spends the next few hours mindlessly watching Netflix or scrolling social media and news on her phone. Although these activities allow her to “zone out”, she rarely feels rejuvenated by them.
Think back to a time that you felt truly rested. How were you feeling? Where were you? Who were you with? What were you doing? What were you not doing?
Consider the activities that you engage in to relax or rest. Which activities restore you? Do any deplete you?
Can you commit to engaging in one activity this next week that is likely to generate an authentic feeling of restfulness? If so, notice the impact this has on the rest of your week.
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