We were at a social gathering with friends who are all doctors. Men and women. In our mid 40s.
We discovered that all the men had been devoted fulltime to their careers although all of them had at least one child. Almost all the women had taken a back seat in their careers and were working part time, or at charitable hospitals or in some scaled down version of their profession.
All the men expressed their gratitude to the women and stated—she runs the house all on her own. She raises the kids. She is amazing. I don’t have to do anything around the house.
I guess it is good that this generation is at least acknowledging and expressing gratitude, but finally I had to intervene in this conversation and say that just because the women are managing ( or being forced to manage and doing it ) that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t change !
That put all the men on the defensive. They were all like—oh it’s a tough world out there. SO much pressure, it’s a jungle, so many insecurities, we don’t have any time, patients are so demanding etc etc.
These men have all marred sorry married 🙂 women who have done PG in medical and surgical fields. But somehow they were expected to ‘manage’. All of us had over 95% marks in the sciences on admission and in fact in my batch the topper had 100% marks and was a girl.
None of the medical colleges teach housekeeping in MBBS or 3 signs to check if the tomatoes are fresh or parenting classes in MD/MS.
If the women can pick up the skills on the go, after marriage and parenthood, then why can’t the men ?
What if the women want to pursue surgical careers and not have children unless the men are going to pitch in for 50% ? Will that ever be a suitable option ?
How many of these men would even consider moving and re-starting their lives in a new city if the woman had a good job offer ?
The year I joined MBBS was the first time that more than 50% of the seats were taken up by young women. But during the PG selection form filling I remember a senior student telling me to opt for Pathology since there are no emergency hours and you can look after the children. Given that I was not remotely planning on having children that year or in the immediate few years, I just gawped at her. Partly marvelling at her knowing what she was going to do so far off in the future and partly cos the idea struck me as crazy. No one seemed to be telling the boys that……..were they all not planning to have children ??
Although Paediatrics has emergency calls, this was also recommended to me since of course it is helpful when you have your own kids.
The first day of orientation for the start of our post graduate residency training in ObGyn was when we were told by the Head of the Department not to get married for the next 3 years and if we were already married, then not to have kids till we finished. The rotation chart would go haywire……….and clearly that was the most important thing. Of course the message was meant only for the females residents since the spouses of the male residents could breed like rabbits for all the difference it made to their schedule.
And then people are shocked when doctors come out of this environment and are insensitive to issues of gender and rights!
The generation of my parents had famous ObGyn women doctors who stayed unmarried to devote themselves to their careers. Heard of any male doctor doing that ? But most of the women doctors I met that day at the picnic had accepted their lot and come to terms with it and even justified it. One of them asked me “At least he is grateful. Isn’t that enough?”
It sounded eerily like a quote I had read from a study on domestic violence where a woman had been grateful that “ mujhe marta hai lekin raat ko ghar to ata hai………utna kafi nahi hai kya ? ……even if he beats me at least he comes home every night. Isn’t that enough? ”
Perhaps it does work that way for some but if we all accept the status quo then who will lead the revolution?