This Is What It’s Like to Experience Misogynoir as a Neurosurgery Resident

This Is What It’s Like to Experience Misogynoir as a Neurosurgery Resident

Racial and gender disparities are prevalent in different specialties of medicine, such as neurology. Although the representation of distinct ethnic and racial groups in academic neurology has changed more than the previous decade1, it is nevertheless not proportionate to the improve noticed in the US population. Moreover, the quantity of girls in faculty has risen, however this group is nevertheless underrepresented in leadership roles.

In addition to these racial and gender inequalities, girls of colour, particularly Black girls, continue to face misogyny. Moya Bailey, an associate professor at the division of communication research at Northeastern University in Boston, even coined the term “misogynoir” to contact focus to the misogyny and racism that Black girls expertise.2

In a 2021 qualitative study published in Social Sciences3, Black undergraduate girls described their experiences with different types of misogynoir — from their look and tone of voice getting policed to unfair grading policies — in higher college with teachers and college administrators. The study located these girls have been normally manipulated by their teachers to adhere to perfectionism as a sense of “proving” their worth as students, the researchers explained. The girls acknowledged that even though their teachers did give them praise, calling them “highly ambitious learners,” they continued to really feel a stress of getting all-understanding and fantastic.

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Misogynoir is also noticed in overall health care, exactly where girls of colour have been neglected and judged as each patients and overall health care pros.

Analiz Rodriguez, MD, PhD, FAANS, director of neurosurgical oncology, an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, division of Neurosurgery, College of Medicine in Little Rock, not too long ago recounted her expertise with misogynoir as a 5-year neurosurgery resident who worked at the hospital for 5 years. In her account, published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education4, Dr Rodriguez, who is Black, described how she was mistaken for a Black female resident doctor in a photo taken by a White female nurse, exactly where the woman’s bra strap was visible. The chair of emergency medicine reported Dr Rodriguez, who was not the lady in the photo, for what she regarded as “unprofessional” and presented recommendations for penalizing her. The expertise produced Dr Rodriguez reflect on what it is like to be a Black female doctor in a space that is predominantly male and White.

“I hope that Black women will stop being essentially invisible in our society,” she wrote.

What went by way of your thoughts when the faculty member approached you about this photo?

Dr Rodriguez: First, I normally put on scrubs when I go to the emergency space mainly because I’m taking dwelling contact as a more senior resident. The other factor is that I have a really conservative mother, and any time I put on a sleeveless best, I constantly put on a strapless bra. So that was basically the tipoff that it just wasn’t me [in the photo].

I just knew in my gut it couldn’t be me. I’m like, this cannot be me. I would in no way do this. And then, the other factor that definitely bothered me is, even if it was me, like who basically cares? Because it is just a bra strap.

How did you really feel the moment you lastly saw the photo?

Dr Rodriguez: When I lastly saw the photo, it was fascinating to me mainly because it was my chair [of the department of neurosurgery] who had the photo. I cannot definitely describe the feeling of a thing so insignificant getting turned into a thing that is such a substantial predicament. I imply I was a neurosurgery resident. I dealt with saving people’s lives, and the chair naturally is a really busy particular person operating a division that does thousands of neurosurgical procedures in a year. To me, it was so petty that an individual sent them this photo in the hopes that I would be told that I’m an unprofessional particular person.

I have constantly felt below the microscope, but that is not necessarily just through residency that is all through my complete life. It’s a really standard factor for girls of colour in different fields — academia, in science, in something.

I have constantly been below a microscope in a way by the nature of my job and position, and some of the exceptional traits intrinsic to who I am. This expertise definitely didn’t adjust me also considerably mainly because I have a lot of varied experiences all through my residency, and this is just 1 of them. I could possibly create a book about all of the experiences, and some experiences I do not consider I will ever share publicly.

At the time, do you think there have been adequate sources at work or an ally to enable you cope by way of this incident?

Dr Rodriguez: I will say I liked exactly where I educated. I’ve had really superior mentors. I do consider that this is ubiquitous. What I do not want persons to consider is that this is the hospital or the institution exactly where you train. It’s ubiquitous, mainly because if you speak to different girls or different persons of colour, this is a thing that occurs everywhere.

I’ve seasoned [these incidents] in different methods all through my whole life. So, it is not a thing that I definitely ordinarily share with other persons. I have a tendency — particularly when I was a resident — to keep away from attempting to draw focus to myself, particularly any focus that may well be adverse. When you are a lady of colour, particularly in a field like neurosurgery, further focus is not a thing that you seek out.

I didn’t definitely speak to persons in my division about this mainly because I just merely told them it wasn’t me. I was delighted I didn’t get any, you know, adverse repercussions from it. I also didn’t really feel like it would adjust something, mainly because this complete factor was structural.

I reached out to a lady faculty member in the division of neurology who was an Indian-American lady, and she was the 1 I felt who gave me the most enable mainly because she understood the predicament. It’s a predicament that I do not consider you could definitely enable an individual if you do not recognize. It’s so multilayered and a sort of exceptional predicament. I just didn’t have any individual in my division who could enable me in that way.

[It also made me] consider of self-preservation — I didn’t want to be noticed as a troublemaker. So, a lot of instances when I had issues take place to me, I wouldn’t definitely inform persons. I consider a lot of girls do this in common — you do not want to be perceived as a troublemaker or an individual who complains, so you just do not speak about it.

In your short article, you wrote “I had assumed that there was an unspoken allyship between women health care workers. Perhaps my race superseded my gender.”

How do you consider that girls of colour and girls in common, particularly in the overall health care field and starting their residency, can be improved allies for every other in equivalent conditions?

Dr Rodriguez: So initial and foremost, I was blessed in the sense that exactly where I educated, I had a definitely powerful neuroscience division. Specifically, with our division of neurology, when I educated at the time, there was a lady chair and hence we had a lot of really prominent women neurologists on employees.

Now, the particular person that I spoke to [about the photo] was an individual in the neurology [intensive care unit] ICU. In neurosurgery, we interface a lot with the ICU attendees. I do consider that the neurology division exactly where I educated was possibly more diverse than other areas, just by the really nature that we had a lady chair at the time.

To me, I consider the most significant factor to recognize is that every person has different experiences. [It’s important to] just be open to other people and recognize how and what you say, or what you do, can impact them.

For me, I consider 1 of the issues I bring up is that oftentimes girls are misrepresented as one more particular person on the group.

How I attempt to describe it to persons — in terms of majority girls vs nonmajority girls — is a lot of instances I hear from my majority girls colleagues’ stories about the annoyance of getting mistaken for a nurse. Like, “Oh, I’m a doctor, I clearly have my white coat on and my name tag,” and for me that is really fascinating. I basically do not get offended at all when I get known as a nurse.

During instruction I wasn’t offended by that, mainly because as a Black lady I get mistaken for a housekeeper. I get mistaken for other issues that are not even portion of the healthcare group. I’ve gotten mistaken for a transporter, in [my] white coat with a name tag. I consider that persons need to recognize there are variations. I’m not saying we need to focus on these variations I consider we can discover typical ground.

All of these experiences are extremely varied, and there are subtleties in between distinct groups. Even inside girls as a group, there are really distinct issues — different experiences that tie us collectively — but then there may perhaps be variations.

Why did you choose to publish the short article about your encounter?

Dr Rodriguez: I definitely consider I wrote the piece to bring awareness to recognize experiences from persons who may perhaps be underrepresented in some way. It’s not necessarily a piece for a particular sort of particular person it is just a piece about how, regrettably, conservative medicine can be and how it can lead to these events that definitely exclude persons and indirectly target them.

Hopefully, we could all work collectively to adjust the technique. I was really shocked by how nicely-received it was and how a lot of persons reached out to me. One of the most impactful issues of persons commenting or reaching out is that when apparently this occurred, there was a healthcare student who was rotating on neurosurgery. She remembered me telling her what occurred, and now she is a fellow.

Years have passed and she talks about how when she gets dressed in the morning she’s consciously paranoid about how an individual will perceive her. I hope that is a thing that we can do away with in medicine. I had no notion that this young lady can nevertheless don’t forget my story from when it basically occurred and that it impacts her to this day. I wanted to bring awareness to these incidences so we can dismantle the culture that leads to it.


  1.  Saleem S, Naveed S, Chaudhary AMD, et al. Racial and gender disparities in neurology. Postgrad Med. J. Published on the net November 12, 2020. doi:10.1136/postgradmedj-2020-138584
  2. Moya Bailey. Bio. Accessed April 14, 2022
  3. Leath S, Ware N, Seward MD, McCoy WN, Ball P, Pfister TA. A qualitative study of black college women’s experiences of misogynoir and anti-racism with high school educators. Soc. Sci. Published on the net January 19, 2021. doi:10.3390/socsci10010029
  4. Rodriguez A. Misogynoir. J Grad Med Educ. 202113(6):795-796. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-21-00699.1

This short article initially appeared on Neurology Advisor

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