Defying Gender Stereotypes Considering Only 19% of Surgeons are Female

In her Keyword essay “Tomboy,” Michelle Ann Abate defines a tomboy as a girl who is willing to reject feminine stereotypes. Abate believes that it is commonly accepted that “there’s a certain way girls should act and a certain way boys should act. That’s so old-fashioned” (224). In the past, idealizing tomboys and favoring these “male” characteristics only functioned to emphasize patriarchy and guide women towards a feminine, domestic adult life. Nowadays, women are being tomboys more in a sense that they are defying stereotypes and realizing that women can do anything men can do, maybe even better.

This idea of the modern day tomboy/strong woman connects to an article from UW-Health entitled “They Look Like Surgeons: UW Health Women Surgeons Spark Meme.” This article was inspired by the April edition of New Yorker health magazine, which featured the faces of an all-women surgical team. Interestingly, with their hair back and surgical masks on, at first glance most would fail to notice that this photo features all females. Since then, photos of women surgeons across the world have been trending on Twitter, and this has built “an unspoken bond of sisterhood.” The articles goes on by questioning “Why, when women make up more than half the number of medical students – and 38 percent of practicing physicians – do they only account for about 19 percent of surgeons?” However, more close to home, Wisconsin’s general surgery faculty is more than half female. Clearly, this Twitter trend has helped to bring women together and showed the world that women are strong, intelligent, and capable of the most complicated surgeries. Females need to start being viewed as capable surgeons, and gender pay disparities must be conquered.

Of course, Jo from Little Women is another example of a tomboy. Jo loves to defy stereotypes and understands that she does not have to act ladylike if she does not want to. Much like female surgeons today who are fighting gender norms and expectations, Jo chooses to be independent and get her story published. Jo decides to follow her dreams and not simply submit to common female domestic duties for her entire life. Overall, women should not let stereotypes hold them back from doing what they love and changing the world.

2 thoughts on “Defying Gender Stereotypes Considering Only 19% of Surgeons are Female”

  1. I actually saw this trending on Twitter as well and really enjoyed the connections it made me feel to intelligent, capable women all across the world. Being a woman working in the Geriatrics department here at the UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, I have been emerged in this uneven gender distribution among the health field. Almost all the surgeons I have met and all personal investigators I meet are male, however, many of the undergraduates I see are female. I love the strong bond that us women in the field share and the idea that, as you stated, “women can do anything men can do, maybe even better.”

  2. I have always found it very interesting that their is such a gender gap in STEM careers. I, myself, am going into a mathematics based field and I often notice the gender gap at different events. I believe that there is not set way to fix this, but teaming together is the first step.

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