Do we have some challenges with gender issues in gastroenterology and colorectal surgery? When I ask my female colleagues the answer is an unambiguous yes. How is it that I do not experience this in my everyday practice? I guess it could be about “to see what you don’t see” or “privilege is invisible to those who have it”. It’s all from subtle things as absence of support and inclusion to more obvious misconduct in stories told by female colleagues. Like when I am talking with a female colleague and two of my male colleagues join the conversation I turn to them. I start changing the subject, we talk about something else and the woman is left on the perimeter not taken in to the conversation. I am at a congress chatting with three colleagues, one of whom is a younger female. An old friend comes by and shakes hands with me and the two males whom he doesn’t know, and my female friend is ignored. Then there are all the situations connected to the operating theater where the young guys are pushed forward by their senior male colleagues. It might not be obvious, but this gender dependent pushing and support already starts in the corridor or in the morning meeting, and because it is repeated continuously the young males are seen as important colleagues and up-coming surgeons while the female colleagues tend to be seen as insecure and as they have a long way to go in surgical skills. And of course they have, all people would become insecure in that situation, in absence of stable inclusion and equal support. It all adds up, males see males and as males occupy most top positions there is an inherent tendency for no change. Maybe it is also because male leaders tend to surround themselves with a male entourage.
Just look at the IBD Congress News, a couple of years ago my female colleague pointed to the fact that the only women depicted were those in the advertisements. All the editorial content was illustrated with photos of male speakers. Our editorial team is male so we saw men?? Since then we have become aware of this and now it’s more balanced I hope. Just home from the UEG week I note that considerably less than one fourth of the invited symposia speakers were women. Still we, read the male role models, have a long way to go,
Why is it that we still struggle with gender issues? Well, as we all know there are differences between all people. And it is these very differences that create the diversity that is a known factor for success... So why do we men dominate? Why can we not step aside from the power and share the power equally with women? Is it that we really are the weak sex and constantly have to prove otherwise? Or are we merely blind for the privilege of not being on the losing side of unconscious gender bias? One of my youngest workmates has initiated a global campaign “#ShesGotThis” with the aim of opening our eyes so we can see what we don’t see. If you are interested look it up on the web and you may even give her some support.
What has this editorial to do with IBD Congress News? - Gender equality is universal and your editor has to find something meaningful to work with. Now enjoy reading the rest of this issue!