Saturday Morning Rounds
A weekly round-up of career & negotiation content for women physicians
What got our attention
How Medicine Became the Stealth Family-Friendly Profession by Claire Cain Miller in the NYT Upshot.
This article captures the current-state of work-life integration for women physicians better than any other we've read - and we've read a lot.
The title, we'll admit, is deceptively cheery when compared with the reality that many women physicians face today. However, the author does a good job of balancing her celebration of the wins that have been tallied to-date with her coverage of the structural imbalances that still need to be addressed.
Overall, it's a pretty short read that's densely packed with good information - we highly recommend you scan it fully for yourself. Some of the main themes touched upon are:
Who we're following
Less of a who, and more of a what, this week - and that what is the trending #MedBikini controversy
Long story short, the Journal of Vascular Surgery published a "study" in which 3 male researchers created fake social media accounts, searched the Vascular Society's database to find member physicians on social media, and then shamed physicians they deemed to be "unprofessional" for wearing a bikini or holding a beer in their personal social media profiles.
Same bullshit, different day.
Med Twitter recently discovered the article, and the outpouring of rage + swimwear photos that has become #MedBikini has successfully gotten the journal to retract the article and publish a formal apology. Good on y'all for showing that being a doctor and being a human aren't mutually exclusive.
That being said, we have a responsibility as your de facto career consultants to point out that a lot of organizations do informal social media reviews like this without publishing them, and while we look forward to the day when such social media posts don't disproportionately punish women, that day has not yet come. We're not gonna preach to you about what's professional or unprofessional or make any specific recommendations, but we will encourage you to (a) intentionally draw that line for yourself and (b) generally err on the side of caution.
BBMD tip of the week
Parental leave, the gender gap, race and intersectionality, politics - all of these topics share a common theme: they're very charged.
What do we mean when we say a topic is charged?
But more importantly, what do we DO when a topic is charged?
The first question we should ask ourselves is whether it's worth the fight in the first place. If you (a) can't change the outcome and (b) aren't likely to change an opinion, yelling into an echo chamber or at an unreceptive counterpart is only likely to make things worse.
However, there are many topics - parental leave being one of the most important among them - that we can't afford to ignore.
So how do we wade into this dangerous territory in a way that's productive? The key is to:
Defensiveness is the single most counterproductive emotion in any exchange, and becoming sensitive to it in both yourself and others is a communication superpower.
Humanizing your counterpart and yourself is like putting guardrails on the conversation that keep it on the road and headed in a productive direction. It increases empathy and puts everyone's focus on solving the problem at hand rather than "winning" a fight against an opponent.
What can you tactically do to avoid defensiveness and increase humanization (I think we made that word up)? Ask yourself a simple question:
We talk a lot in our curriculum about how important it is to assume best intent - it provides the clearest path forward and maximizes the emotional resonance of your interactions.
In this case we also add the assumption of intelligence because it helps us to more effectively see things from our counterpart's perspective and to understand their priorities. Doing so greatly increases our chances of actually changing their position.
In the specific area of parental leave and career perceptions, one great way to do this would be to actually have an open conversation with the decision-maker(s) at your institution about the topic. Transparent conversations about charged topics can be incredibly effective if you follow this outline:
The above method might not solve the gender gap overnight, but we've seen it change entire institutions' policies more quickly than any legislative action ever dreamed.
As an example, one of our clients works for a very large, well-known academic institution on the east coast. With our help, she negotiated an increase from 6wks of unpaid to 12wks of paid maternity leave. A year later she called to let us know that the mere existence of her contract had catalyzed an institution-wide policy change to match everyone's parental leave offer to hers - not just on the medical side of things but throughout the whole university!
Change comes most often from inside an organization itself, and you can be the most powerful force to make it happen for both yourself and others.
Quote we're contemplating
PS - If you were forwarded this email and enjoyed it, subscribe here to make sure you don't miss out on future ones!
PPS - As always, please let us know your requests and suggestions by replying to this email (we read 'em all) or getting at us via Twitter. Which section above is your favorite? What do you want more or less of? Just send a tweet to @BossB_MD and put #SaturdayMorningRounds in there so we can find it.
Have a wonderful weekend, y'all!