Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day 7 of 10 Days of Great Women

In the final days leading up to the Women's Marches across the nation, I'll be highlighting the GREAT Americans I know who have fought for our progress as a nation. I'll specifically be looking toward the women in my life that have impacted my ability to see progress, women who have inspired me, women who have pushed me to be better.

When I was a kid, I remember going to the doctor and I remember that was a "man's" job. As I was growing up, stereotypes were being broken left and right. I was regularly told that I could be anything that I wanted to be and I absolutely believed that. My parents put forth great effort to make sure I knew I was smart so I knew one day I could grow up to be a woman and a doctor.

But knowing something is possible isn't the same as seeing that it's the norm.

English has a pronoun problem that I learned about from listening to people refer to professions. They used to all be referred to as "he." Here's what I mean. If you have to replace post master with a pronoun, you have to choose he or she; the silly grammarians still haven't yet accepted "they" and they definitely hadn't accepted it when I was growing up. "He" was what was typically used. Here's an example.

"I'd like to speak with the post master. When will he be in?"

Really the post master might be a woman, no? But we default to "he."

In certain fields we're far more likely to default to "he" than "she."

Doctors are one of those fields. My pediatrician was a man. The doctor who saw me when I fractured my skull was a man. The hearing specialist I saw about my lost hearing from my skull fracture was a man. But then, one day I got a PA when I got my period and she was a woman. And suddenly I could talk to her. She felt relatable in a new way to me.

When I moved to the mountains I saw female doctors everywhere. My family doc is a woman, the pediatric dermatologist is a woman, the ER doc I met the other day is a woman, and on and on.

So today is for the Doctors. For me, the fact that you're female matters. I respect the work you did and the sacrifices you made to become doctors differently than I do men. For the men that sort of sacrifice was assumed. For you, it was bigger, less supported, less seen as you grew up and looked at the role models around you. And because of you, little girls growing up will see it differently.

Women doctors feel easier to talk to. I feel more comfortable and imagine them understanding my feelings and circumstances differently. I believe they listen better to me and take my concerns to heart. Whether these are real or perceived doesn't so much matter. My gratitude for and trust in them is what matters.

So today, Day 7 of 10 Days of Great Women is for you, Doctors. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for your intelligence and your years of hard study. Thank you for listening and for healing us when we are sick. And thank you for changing the assumed pronoun of "he" to "they." Take that, grammarians!