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Editorial: Pulling back the veil of gender bias in the workplace

Digital EditionOphthalmology Times: November 2023
Volume 48
Issue 11

Neda Shamie, MD:

Shamie is a cataract, LASIK, and corneal surgeon and partner of the Maloney- Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles, California. She is co–chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

Neda Shamie, MD:

Shamie is a cataract, LASIK, and corneal surgeon and partner of the Maloney- Shamie Vision Institute in Los Angeles, California. She is co–chief medical editor of Ophthalmology Times.

After 20 years in practice as an ophthalmologist, I have had the opportunity to work in varied settings, academic and private, and with a diverse group of colleagues. Most of my experiences have been positive, inspiring and supportive. As one would expect though, I have also had my share of encounters that were disheartening and fraught with gender bias.

When up for promotion, with no input from me, I was once told, “You don’t want that promotion. You are a mom with young kids to care for and don’t have the time to do the job.” And when up for a raise, I was told, “You don’t need a raise; you have a husband who makes good money.”

One of the most evident forms of gender bias is the persistent gender pay gap. Women still earn less than men for the same job, in most cases 20% to 30% less.1 This disparity perpetuates the inequality and undermines women’s financial independence. It also sends a demoralizing message about women’s worth and contri- bution to the workforce.2,3

Another unfortunate manifestation of gender bias is the underrepresentation of women in leadership roles. Stereotypes about women’s suitability for leadership positions persist, leading to a lack of diverse perspectives in decision-making processes.

Moreover, women frequently encounter microaggressions and subtle biases that undermine their competence and commitment to their careers. These experiences can hamper the confidence and growth of talented female professionals and further perpetuate the bias.

However, amid these challenges, there are signs of progress everywhere. The world is witnessing a growing awareness and recognition of the detrimental effects of gender bias in the workplace. Meaningful conversations and initiatives to address the issue head-on can be witnessed and celebrated in academic and private sectors.4

Institutions and companies are increasingly appreciating the positive impact of gender diversity and inclusivity in their workforces. Many organizations are implementing gender equality policies, providing unconscious bias training, and establishing mentorship programs.

Moreover, women themselves are breaking barriers and defying stereotypes. They are rising to leadership positions, excelling in male-dominated roles, and becoming powerful advocates for themselves and for gender equality. Their success and resilience serve as an inspiration for future generations, fostering a virtuous cycle of empowerment for all.

1. Dandar VM, Lautenberger DM, Garrison G. Exploring faculty salary eq- uity at U.S. medical schools by gender and race/ethnicity. Washington, DC: Association of American Medical Colleges, October 2021 (https:// www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/ report/exploring-faculty-sala- ry-equity-us -medical-schools-gender-and-race/ ethnicity).
2. Doximity. 2019 physician compensation report: third annual study. March 2019. Accessed October 18, 2023.
3. Lo Sasso AT, Armstrong D, Forte G, Gerber SE. Differences in starting pay for male and female physicians persist: explanations for the gender gap remain elusive. Health Aff (Millwood). 2020;39(2):256-63. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2019.00664
4. Gottlieb AS, ed. Closing the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine: A Roadmap for Healthcare Organizations and the Women Physicians Who Work for Them. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2021.
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