Top 10 Things You Can Do To Impact Gender Equity in Medicine

ACP has some specific recommendations for making a difference. As gender equity improves, we are all better!

  1. Advocate:  Advocate for family, maternity and paternity leave. Don't forget about the silver tsunami. Care-giving tasks across the lifespan still falls primarily on women. Advocate for education that supports whole-woman care, including contraception and family planning. Advocate for inclusion of more women in clinical trials. Advocate for institutional requirements for hiring and promotion that address and fix inequities. Advocate for equal gender representation on search committees and in applicants. Advocate for recognition of all types of work, including committees, task forces, and comprehensive, complex patient care, and advocate for payment for all work. Take risks. Speak truth, sometimes gently, sometimes firmly, sometimes loudly. March, make fantastic posters and wear great hats. And don’t forget to vote!
  2. Amplify: When opportunity affords such as when a woman's comment goes unnoticed, amplify what she said before someone paraphrases it and gets the credit. Amplify each other's accomplishments- women are much more likely to be labeled self promoters so show how we lead differently and collaboratively -- help each other out.
  3. Celebrate, Honor, and Support: Celebrate positive examples and experiences! Celebrate differences! Honor female leaders by promoting them to positions of leadership within your professional community and nominate them for deserving acknowledgements and awards. Find allies with influence. Be an ally with influence. Believe in yourself and in other women. Support each other. No judgment. Support choices that may not always validate our own.
  4. Engage: Engage everyone, including leadership and men, to make gender equity a priority. Engage minority females to ensure we are looking out for ALL women - African American, Hispanic, Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, and Native American women as well as LGTBQ and those with disabilities - whose pay gap and leadership gap issues are worse. Demand prompt and non-retaliatory corrective actions in response to gender bias, harassment or discrimination. Insist on gender pay equity.
  5. Help and Sponsor:  Offer to help. Be available. Offer opportunities. Help make connections. Write letters of support and recommendation that overcome gendered language and expectations. Offer to sponsor. Sponsor. Teach negotiation skills. Help by urging women who are busy but uninvolved professionals to join organized medicine in this fight.
  6. Measure: Make measurement a priority. Insist that institutions include markers to address leadership and pay gaps. Make sure these measurements include under-represented minorities. Measure all types of work, including committees, mentoring, etc… Measure types and complexity of patients cared for.
  7. Mentor: Look for and be a mentor, be gender blind, occupation and age blind, peek around corners and use peer/near peer mentorship. Learning is so important. We can all learn more about unconscious bias, microaggressions, etc and share our learnings. 
  8. Promote: Promote practices that push away biases and create more equity. Use gender neutral language in position descriptions, conversations, evaluations, promotion criteria. Promote diversity and inclusion for search committees, task forces, and standing committees. Promote gender inequity awareness at meetings by making it an agenda item.
  9. Respect: Respect the person – regardless of gender, cultural or other identity. Respect the role that the physician has in your organization and/or wants to have. Respect ones ideology. See differences as sacred gifts.
  10. Share and Solicit: Share insider secrets too. Bond together. Don’t divide. So if you negotiate well or find a good place to work etc.. - then share. Be visible and present. Be patient and impatient. Be persistent. Use the bully pulpit if you have one. Share unwritten rules and unspoken knowledge. The hidden curriculum abound -- be explicit about it to help each other. Solicit female role models to visit your institution as Grand Round speakers and ask them at the end of their talk to comment on gender inequality awareness as an ACP platform. And don’t forget to refer to them as Doctor!