Friday, January 20, 2006

Jobs and gender

Yet another gynaecologist is in the news for repeatedly making an almighty mess of things. If your gynaecologist looks like this, uh oh.

I do not understand why any woman in this country would visit a male gynaecologist out of choice. I had a horrid experience with one myself who I was only visiting cos no-one had a female one on the health insurance I was on. It's a pretty unpleasant experience at the best of times, without having to worry about what sort of cheap thrills the specialist is getting out of the situation. I'm sure there are some great ones out there but I think it would make great sense to say that new doctors entering the specialisation should be female. Of course there is no doubt somewhere a letcherous old lesbian with an extra-cold speculum (female gynaecologists always warm them and male ones never do in my experience...) just waiting for me to step through her door. I'll take my chances though.

Isn't it just a little bit ridiculous that women aren't allowed to become bishops in churches and men are allowed to professionally poke women's genitals about in the name of medical science?


staghounds said...

So, you're saying that discrimination in employment by sex based on personal prejudice is alright?

I thought I was the only rabid personal property libertarian here.

But no way I would agree that some people's prejudices about employment based on sex should be used to prevent entry into a profession for half the population.

The first one is fine with m

Cruella said...

If the issue is one of skill or ability, then I would never discriminate on a gender basis, because gender is not a good indicator of those things. However when the issue is appropriateness I would happily identify a number of jobs which should be done by a specific gender. For example, administrator at a crisis centre for female rape victims. That should be a woman.

I don't think that's radical.

peacay said...

I'm a male. I'm not a Doctor.

First I suppose I see your post as conflating 2 separate situations (well, 3 with the priest angle...but I'm just going to gently sidestep that for the sake of brevity) in support of a notionally sensible argument in favour of stacking the numbers in the O&G profession.

The linked article said the guy was arrested. They said he was a bad surgeon years ago. They did not state anything at all about there being a sexual assault possiblity or any other possiblity - it stands out as an news story with no information in it really. So I don't believe it's a fair argument to tender that in support of a call for a block on male becoming O&G specialists.

You've had (I'm presuming just) one bad experience for which I have sympathy. To your credit you acknowledge that there are likely good male gynaecologists around.

But I object strongly to the suggestion that the likelihood of improper behaviour is increased (proportionally) in any way simply because of the specialist's gender. Of course there are loons in every sphere of life but to conclude that there's any increase in risk whatsoever simply because of what? a single personal occurrence of bad behaviour and no doubt hearsay you've come across in your social circles. That's kind of slandering the whole profession.

I'm sure there are stats out there but I'd be guessing that sexual misconduct by a gynaecologist would have an incidence rate of somewhere very south of 1% and it would be wildly outlandish to project that negativity onto the 99.99% of professionals.

By way of anecdotal evidence for a contrary view I can tell you that when I was nursing, (which is of course a very different scenario to being a gynaecologist but not out of the ballpark) it was my responsibility at times to attend in one way or another to personal needs or treatment that involved intimate care. ALL the feedback I ever got was absolutely ultra-positive, with many saying that their attitude changed to the positive, much to their surprise.

What they found, what I know for myself, and what I believe that most males also bring to such delicate work is the 'gentleness of deference', for want of a better expression. Many women said that females attending had less patience or were rougher or less caring because they had a blase attitude with something so familiar. But I/we never ever approach intimate care of a woman as anything other than something of huge significance. It's not rocket science to see that it is up there among the potentially greatest violations and so it is always something I/we approach delicately, professionally, sympathetically and honestly.

And it is the most basic thing in the job to do everything (which is duh...almost nil) to make sure any equipment, including hands, are warm. First principles. Anyone who doesn't is a dickhead, regardless of the gender.

I'm not trying to say I'm anything like a saint. I'm also not trying to say that there isn't bound to be some less than honourable males who are involved in such intimate care. But I won't concede that there is any worse behaviour by men, in proportion to their numbers, than there is by women. I would ask that you find supporting evidence before I would give that possiblity any credence.

I did say that I thought that that suggesting that women only in O&G was a notionally credible thought. Obviously it's not going to happen but this is one area that probably does need some advocacy. I don't know what the ratio of females:males actually is in the profession but I guess it would be like 80:20. The question is: why are there so few female O&G professionals? Is it the attitude of the Royal College? Are there obstacles in the way in terms of academic or hospital discrimination? Has there been any surveys firstly of the female population at large to see if they would agree with a majority female profession or has there been any surveys done of O&G specialists or surgeons as a whole or Doctors as a whole, to try and get some sort of picture of what sorts of things people think, want and have experienced.

I really don't know what sort of research has been done to date but it seems to me that advocacy, in terms of better outcomes as a whole - better treatment in the Doctor's rooms - would come from calling for the Medical Associations/ Royal Colleges / Journalists &c to air this sort of issue and drum up support for more women to enter into the profession.

I hope this hasn't come across as attacking you. I'm sure if I had a bad experience it would assume a great emotional influence in how I came to view this area of life as a whole. But equally I hope I've gone a little way towards opening up the topic beyond the personal experience.

Anyway, that's my 2c spent.

Cruella said...

Yeah I really don't mean to attack those people out there who are doing a great job. There's a part of me though which wonders why a guy would be attracted into doing O&G in the first place. I knew a guy at college who was planning to specialise in it, luckily for all concerned he was later booted off the course, but he did seem to be rather a disturbed individual (he subsequently re-trained as a lawyer!).

Personally I would always ask for a female gynaecologist. I certainly think I'm entitled to ask for one, and if we all did, well sooner or later the profession would become massively female-dominated due to demand rather than supply.

peacay said...

There's a part of me though which wonders why a guy would be attracted into doing O&G in the first place.

Because it's interesting. Because they want to do something productive and positive with their lives. Because they care about reproductive and female health.

You seem to think that there must be some ulterior motive, that it's suspicious and that these males can't be trusted.

You know that's illogical.

Cruella said...

there are a lot of misogynists out there. you have to wonder if they're drawn to the area in much the same way paedophiles become scout leaders (or priests!!)