Sexism in Medicine: Doctors See It & Feel It Too

It's an obvious point, but one that patients might not automatically think about: sexism is not only directed at patients but at female doctors as well. I have a number of friends who are female doctors and they all have stories to share. And now there's a place for them to do so!

Systemic Disease is a website very similar to this one, except it's focused on allowing medical students, residents, and doctors share their stories of discrimination. Systemic Disease is devoted to all types of discrimination: sexism, racism, ableism, LGBT discrimination, you name it. Reading through the submissions, it's no wonder there's so much sexism in doctor-patient interactions--the problem goes all the way to the top!

This blog is important because it lets us see things from the practitioners' perspective. Sometimes the sexism is from the medical school toward the student. Sometimes it's the hospital toward the intern, and sometimes it's from the intern toward the patient. Take this submission, for instance

During my medicine rotation as a 3rd year medical student, I was receiving sign-out from a night intern about a patient. She was an older patient who was admitted for syncope. As the intern signed her out, he said, "Oh, she's also complaining of pain, but, you know those elderly Latino women, they're always complaining about pain everywhere." I didn't know how to respond, so I said nothing.

Submissions such as these prove that the discrimination women feel is not all in their heads. It's very real and it comes from every angle of the medical profession. 

I've limited my blog to medical sexism toward the patient because (1) I felt the blog needed a focus, and (2) there are already a number of organizations devoted to disparate treatment for minority groups whereas there are virtually none for women. I'm glad that Systemic Disease brings all types of discrimination together in one place, however, because it's all intertwined. Racism reinforces sexism which reinforces ableism.

If you're a doctor, please check out this website and share your story. We need to all work together to get this message out.