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Women’s Work January 26, 2007

Posted by Winter in work.

I have vented on this subject many times before, but I’m afraid I need to rant again! Because at work today I was given another one of those talks. About how I need to start planning for the future and pick a specialty…that’s good for a woman.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a newly qualified doctor. I work in mental health at the moment. Apparently this is a good specialty for me – as a woman. Lots of potential to go part time when I ‘find a husband and want to settle down and have children’. General practice is another family friendly specialty apparently. I have been given this speech so many times before. Does it ever occur to my seniors that I might not want children? That I might actually a job that I find stimulating and that I am good at, just like my male colleagues? (Incidentally I do want a career in mental health but certainly not because it is a ‘good job for a woman’)

I am not as surprised by the lack of women in government or business as I used to be. All it takes is one generation to send the ‘not women friendly’ message out, and for another generation to believe it.

What depressed me most about todays ‘limit your options talk’ was that it was from an admired, and accomplished female consultant. I hope my generation of women in medicine will be different. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure they will be.



1. Diane - January 26, 2007

I hope to God you told her what you said in this blog post. She needs to hear it.

2. Diane - January 26, 2007

I hope like hell you told her what you told us in this blog. She needs to hear it.

3. Siberian Fall - January 27, 2007

I haven’t told her any of that actually. I should have said something during the original conversation but somehow I wasn’t sure how to challange someone so senior, and who I actually really like. Is it strange that I would have had no problem challenging those ideas if it had been from a man?

I’ve decided to try to bring it up in conversation again and let her know my feelings on the subject. I’ll let you know how it goes!

4. Laura - January 29, 2007

How depressing 😦

5. moongirl - February 1, 2007

It’s not surprising, I suppose, that she said such a thing. People often enforce gender boundries without even thinking about it. Or maybe she’s just projecting 🙂

6. Louisefeminista - February 5, 2007

It must also be demoralising as well when you think of the gains women have made in the last 30 odd years and to hear this bilge.

It is sad that the obsession with women having families and nowt else is alive and very well.

And I do know the feeling of finding it hard to challenge someone you like and get on with. I also find it easier challenging a bloke re: these ideas as I suppose you expect more from women. You are probably right to bring it up in a conversation and see how it goes. Good Luck!


7. Anonymous - February 14, 2007

So, as a senior woman (in another discipline), I should not be warning women “The going might be tough if you choose to do that”? Just let young women walk into barriers blind because it’s a new world, and the environment in some specialities might have miraculously changed since I last looked? Despite the fact that hitting the barriers can really hurt, and that a bit of strategy can avoid or minimise some of them?

OK, so it seems your complaint was more about the assumption that you weren’t serious about a career and might take time out with children. Could I just make a suggestion here? Look around a bit. A lot of women who have children are very serious about their careers — why the heck shouldn’t they be? And a lot of women who thought the children thing was not for them have surprised everyone by turning into devoted parents.

I really, really want you to succeed. A proven boost is given to peoples’ chances by having mentors, either formal or informal. So I suggest you latch onto the senior colleague who was willing to spend time giving you advice. One of the benefits she might get from a mnetoring relationship should be that you feed her some ideas about how things look from your end. So yes, you could usefully tell her what you felt about what she said, but maybe carefully so that you don’t sound too rigid.

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