Sexism and Discrimination in the Workplace

A stereotype is a generalized perception of first impressions, a judgment of someone’s outward appearance which leads to an assumption that that person is associated with a specific group. Stereotypes, therefore, can instigate prejudice and false assumptions about entire groups of people, such as female doctors. Discrimination against a person or group is the prejudicial treatment of them based on certain characteristics. Sexism is the belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to or less valuable than the other. Even in the 21st century, sexism and discrimination against female physicians still exist in the workplace. Therefore, it makes sense to anticipate chauvinism and to develop strategies for combating it.

Unfair treatment of women physicians comes from both men and women, from those in power and those not, and from patients, staff, and faculty. Sometimes it is subtle and sometimes it is blatant. Often it is innocent, particularly among older patients who are used to doctors being men. Your response to an incident of sexism or discrimination will depend on the individual situation as well as your own personal style. If an offense is egregious, you may need help. Talk openly with other women about hypothetical as well as real situations.


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