My first confession is that I don’t really care to what extent a female emergency physician decides to embrace her femininity on the job. And yet, a new generation of female physicians is reshaping perceptions of our profession: what it takes to succeed, and therefore what sorts of skills, temperaments, and character types belong in our field. There is the nascent #ILookLikeaSurgeon campaign that started on Twitter and grew to its own domain aimed at breaking down the stereotype that surgeons are all of the Caucasian, male, alpha-types of old. What will the equivalent movement be for emergency medicine? And what obligation do female EM residents and attendings have to represent our profession on the job and when we negotiate for new jobs?
My second confession is that I am a reluctant warrior at best when it comes to reinforcing or breaking down gender stereotypes in the ED. My ultimate goal is to do what is best for my patients, and if that means playing up my femininity, then I’ll consider that tactic. But not every female physician feels this way, and opinions on the subject are passionate and varied.
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