Mei Wen is a medical student in the Class of 2019 at the University of Toronto
“Intersectionality” was always a term that I saw in academic discussions, but never something I consciously thought of as it pertains to my own identity as a person of colour — a Chinese-Canadian — and a woman. This changed in my third year of medical school, when I was no longer in the safe space of a classroom but in the real world as a clinical clerk, interacting with people from all walks of life.
In the hospital, I grew accustomed to patients, nurses, and sometimes even colleagues assuming I was a nurse based on my appearance: a small, young-appearing Asian woman. But it wasn’t until a 5-year-old patient took one look at me and said with conviction, “You’re not a doctor, you’re a nurse! Because you’re a girl and girls are nurses and boys are doctors!” that I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I did not “naturally” belong in the space of medicine. Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a nurse — they are amazing, competent individuals and I don't know how hospitals and clinics would run without them — but it's the automatic assumption that I am a nurse (which my male colleagues do not face) that is problematic. ...continue reading →
This post really needs no introduction. First came #WomenBoycottTwitter when Twitter straightjacketed Rose McGowan and women reacted angrily to what they felt was unfair ‘victim silencing’. But many pointed out the irony and probable ineffectiveness of self-imposed silence to protest enforced silence. Then yesterday my social media feeds were full of the hashtag #MeToo along with story after story after story from women friends, of sexual harassment, abuse and unwanted physical attention. Women I look up to; tough women…the sort about whom you might think, “It would never happen to them.” Lawyers, a chemistry professor, a neuroscientist, respected colleagues in medical research.
Last week, writer Anne Donahue tweeted, “When did you meet YOUR Harvey Weinstein? I’ll go first…,” which has tens of thousands of replies and ‘quote’ retweets and prompted Trevor Noah to tweet"The number of replies to this tweet is insane. As men we have to do better to stop this."
These enthusiastic greetings solidify Tuesday as my favourite day of week. As I enter the classroom, several of the girls come running to give me a hug, squealing my name in excitement. It’s my weekly afternoon at Les Scientistes, a program designed to encourage young girls from low-income communities to discover science. ...continue reading →
Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
Perhaps too slow, perhaps too nervous, but now that the London Times has spoken out in an editorial, I feel I can say openly that I too believe Professor Tim Hunt was treated badly by his university and some of the media. His ill-considered joke about women scientists- “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry”- was, without doubt, a poorly thought out off-the-cuff attempt at humour by a 72 year old man of a different era. It should have been simply dismissed as antediluvian. ...continue reading →