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The Robert G. Fenley Writing Awards: General Staff Writing - Silver

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Taking on Gender Inequity
Taking on Gender Inequity

“Taking on Gender Inequity - Women in Medicine” by Nancy Averett
University of Chicago Medical Center

The story is a comprehensive look at the pervasive gender and racial discrimination female physicians face and ways to level the playing field in medicine and surgery. The story includes eye-opening statistics and personal anecdotes from female physicians who have faced discrimination because of their gender, race or both. Interviews were conducted with female physicians from the trainee level to those in top leadership positions at academic medical centers. We cover issues such as the gender gap in leadership, implicit bias and how it affects evaluations, the need for more women in research (including as subjects), disparities in pay and promotion, and work-life issues. The story looks at studies by female researchers on gender bias in the medical workplace and recommendations to improve parity. Finally, it outlines how some female leaders in medicine are leading by example and mentoring younger women in their fields, and how others make a point of speaking up about the problem to their male and female colleagues to raise awareness.

“Women who make it into the leadership ranks still face challenges related to gender. “Women leaders are put under the microscope,” said Melina Kibbe, AB’90, MD’94, Chair of Surgery at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Editor-in-Chief of...”

Nancy Averett
Nancy Averett

What was the most impactful part of your award-winning entry?
Helping to give a voice to women who had been carrying around the burden of coping with this discrimination — experiencing myriad microaggressions throughout their careers — who may have felt a sense of vindication that their experiences were taken seriously.

What is one thing you learned from this experience?
Implicit bias is pervasive. One researcher described her shock when she realized implicit bias had skewed her own research, which I found fascinating. Overall, this has made me aware of how I might be showing implicit bias toward other women.

Anna Madrzyk
Anna Madrzyk

What challenge did you overcome?
Some sources were reluctant to give details of the discrimination that they had faced, perhaps so as not to embarrass male colleagues. As a writer, I knew that concrete examples would make the piece more interesting, so I had to gently push them.

What was the biggest challenge in writing about this topic?
How to structure this complex story into a focused, organized narrative. The physicians I interviewed were so generous with their time and insight it was difficult to not include everything.

Contact
Natalie Halley, natalie.halley@uchospitals.edu

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