I have a personal belief that we have to make change happen at an individual level and I try to do that on a daily basis. This article is a representation of one of my individual actions for change. My focus today is on Healthcare IT and how we reference people.
Doctors = “He” & Nurses = “She”
Recently, I had the pleasure of participating in three different product demonstrations from various Healthcare IT vendors. The products themselves were quite nice and offered some great technology to the Healthcare Industry. However, I found myself unable to focus completely on the demonstrations at hand because of a common thread that I was noticing during the demonstrations.
Each person doing the demonstration, referred to doctors solely as “he” and to nurses solely as “she”. The vendors performing the demonstration were a mix of male and female so I can’t even say this is a male specific issue. This pattern began to bother me and was even distracting from the actual demonstration.
I also found that when you google “Nurse” and go to the images tab you will see mostly images of women. If you do the same for “Doctor” you will see mostly images of men. We are constantly programmed with these gender roles without even really realizing it.
Will You Change Your Presentation?
The statistics do show that there are more female nurses and more male doctors. One could argue that the references being made are just on the presenters past experience and the current market. I am suggesting that those of us in Healthcare IT make a focused effort on changing this. Pay attention to yourself when describing these types of roles. Put a focused effort into changing the way that you present these examples to your audience. If a person consistently hears a role referred to in a gender context, they are being programmed to belief this as truth. It becomes difficult for them to imagine themselves as something other than that programmed role.
I have personally made a focused effort on changing my presentation of these roles over the past several years. I describe both doctors and nurses as “he or she” (I am still working on “she or he”…….). However, I noticed today after all of this discussion, our website shows a male provider and a female nurse. I will be working on finding an image the reflects this differently soon.
Healthcare IT – Be the Change
Our industry constantly promotes change. We recommend technology that will change the way healthcare provides care to patients. Today, I am asking everyone to become the change. When describing doctors or nurses, or any job position, use something more gender neutral and please stop putting women in specific roles. Everyone’s mental programming needs to be changed so that we can begin to level the playing field.