I first heard of the FemInEM crew in Dublin. Dara Kass, Jenny Beck-Esmay and Stacey Poznanski took to the stage to talk about the birth of FemInEM, first as a blog then as a resource to effect change in the conversation around gender and equity in emergency medicine. Since then they have grown to be a leading voice in this area.
Their first sell out conference, FIX17, in New York brought together a unique set of voices and when the call came out for pitches to speak at FIX18 I thought it would be the perfect place for me to tell a story. This blog post isn’t about my tale – you can read A short story about death… and life here – but about something else.
I consider myself well-travelled, having spent almost 5 years of my life working as a doctor on board cruise ships, but hearing the talks at FIX18 made me realise I a still living in my own little bubble. Everything I hear via Twitter or other forms of social media comes pre-filtered by the source. So if I only follow white hetero-males they inform my worldview. The conference reminded me that there are other voices and other realities.
Sex and gender
In a conference where I was clearly in the minority, I was constantly reminded of things I have just taken for granted. Nick Gorton, a transman, really opened my eyes when he told the audience that life had been like playing a video game on hard mode then, when he became a man, everything just switched over to easy. Look out for his great talk when it comes out…
You only have to read the newspaper headlines on any given day to see how race plays a role in the public perception of a person. To hear Arabia Mollette say that she will never be seen as a woman first when she walks into a room because she is a person of colour made me feel uncomfortable. I’d like to think that I don’t see the world that way, but we all have our implicit biases. Don’t think you are biased? Then try out one of the Harvard Implicit Bias tests over at Project Implicit.
A lot of medics come from a place of privilege, parents with degree level education and jobs that pay well. Many have parents that are, or were, doctors. Regina Royan spoke of a different type of upbringing, of families struggling to make ends meet, and of the hidden challenges this brings from the start of medical training – not just in the shockingly high costs to apply to medical school in the US but also on things like electives and placements away from your home base.
I have lived, comfortably, within my own little bubble of existence. FemInEM has challenged me to expand my worldview, to listen to dissenting voices, and ask more questions.
For more accounts of FIX18 then read these accounts…
Penny Wilson – Getting my feminist FIX in New York
Shannon MacNamara – Telling stories to FIX things
Annie Slater – We support, We Amplify, We Promote