#WomenInMedicine, a History
The momentum of ongoing gender dynamic workplace discussion was initially propelled to the forefront in 2013 with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. Since then other campaigns for gender equality have sprouted, notably among professional women. Women are harnessing the power of social media as a tool to bring awareness to workplace gender discrepancies.
In 2015, the hashtag campaign #ILookLikeAnEngineer was started by a software developer when a company advertisement containing her picture was criticized with complaints like “she doesn’t look like an engineer.” She beautifully replied with the hashtag #ILookLikeAnEngineer, leading other female engineers to post images of themselves with the hashtag. In medicine, this gained the attention of female surgeons who catapulted it to #ILookLikeASurgeon, which fueled conversations around #WomenInMedicine.
Social Media in Medicine
In the last several years, applications of social media have dramatically increased for doctors. The technology has transformed from a personal networking platform, to a valuable tool capable of connecting physicians from around the world. From dispensing health advice to connecting with potential patients, there is no question that the role of social media within the medical field has expanded rapidly in recent years, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Many providers are harnessing the power of social media for networking, medical education, patient interactions, professional development, and a system of support. Most interestingly, hashtag campaigns and Twitter chats have garnered great attention to several causes for women, including gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and have connected people from across the globe.
The American College of Chest Physicians® (CHEST) Social Media Working Group has been following important data within the medical community. What we’ve found is that while Twitter usage may be dropping in the general public, it is rising yearly among health-care professionals in the critical care community. Currently, we’ve seen increased growth in the hashtag #WomenInMedicine since a Twitter chat with that hashtag was held in December of 2017. Our preliminary, unpublished data shows there have been approximately over 400 million impressions and 2,000 users chiming in monthly. These whopping numbers are not only raising awareness but also creating a sense of pride and validation to the experiences female doctors have been experiencing for years.
The Best Tool
For my female colleagues I leave you with this: The best tool you will ever have is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Understanding workplace dynamics and shared experiences of female doctors can prepare you to combat discrimination and subconscious bias. While a female doctor may feel disadvantaged at work, surrounded by mostly male colleagues; online, there is a powerful voice spreading a message of unity, love, growth, and a new horizon for #WomenInMedicine. Seek that voice for support and encouragement!
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