Cultivating A Career in Medicine: Application of the WorkParty Principles for Women Physicians
When considering the career of a physician, work is an association that easily comes to mind; party, on the other hand, does not. However, the principles that Create & Cultivate founder Jaclyn Johnson espouses to female entrepreneurs in her book WorkParty are the same principles that will propel the advancement of women in medicine. As with many industries, the majority of leadership positions in medicine are held by men.1 But change is coming. For the last fifteen years women have made up approximately half of medical school classes, and as of 2018, the majority of medical students are now women.2 The time is now to get these women on a career track to leadership and cultivating a WorkParty culture in medicine is just the way to do that.
Start by starting.
There’s a reason this is the number one commandment of WorkParty. “You’re never going to have all your ducks in a row or the experience you ‘need.’ So all you need, at least at the onset, is the gusto to say yes.”3 In the field of medicine where credentials are based on rigorous, formalized degrees and training, it is easy to feel as though you are not knowledgeable enough, not experienced enough, not expert enough to seize an opportunity. Women wait until they meet 100% of the requirements before applying to a position while men will apply if they meet just 60% of the requirements.4 That means we as women need to acknowledge that at least part of the reason we do not see reflections of ourselves in leadership is because we are not applying for the opportunities. That does not mitigate or downplay the systemic gender discrimination in healthcare, but taking that ownership can serve as an actionable tool for closing the gender gap. As Dr. Ariela Marshall said during a #womeninmedicine Twitter chat, “I apply for things I know I won’t get (too young, too little experience) just to get my name out in the field and I always meet with chair of search committee after to express interest in future involvement and what I can do to strengthen application next time.” Start by starting. Apply for that position, grant, award, etc., even if you only meet 60% of the requirements.
Collaboration over competition.
“The idea that collaboration with women is stronger than competition with them is the nugget of gold that launched Create & Cultivate.”3 That same realization has sparked the creation of multiple organizations and conferences for women in medicine including Girl Med Media, Brave Enough, Women Physicians Wellness Conference, Women in Medicine Summit, and Women in White Coats. At the core of the mission of each of these organizations is women supporting women. For too long there seemed to be only one token seat at the table for women so we were each other’s competition, but this is a fallacy used to keep us out of the conversation. There are seats for all women — women of color, indigenous women, trans women, queer women, all women — at the table and we arrive there by pushing and pulling each other along the way. Practically speaking, this means nominating women for leadership positions, nominating women for regional and national awards, recommending female speakers for conferences and events, and hiring women to editorial journal positions. These are achievements one can use to leverage career advancement. Historically these achievements were born out of connections created through the old boys’ club. Men are nominating themselves and other men, it is time we do the same.
Find your tribe.
Women report struggling more than men when it comes to identifying mentors and sponsors.5 These people are critical in getting you in front of the doors that will lead to the next level of your career. “Unfortunately, there’s no crash course in networking, and if there is, it’s probably a pyramid scheme. Going to events is where being an authentic human is your best bet. Chances are, everyone you meet is going to be an authentic human, too.”3 The conferences for women in medicine mentioned above are excellent opportunities for networking. Social media is another avenue of networking that may be particularly advantageous for women and underrepresented minorities who do not see themselves reflected in the leadership in their local academic or work environment. There is a robust community of women in medicine engaged on Twitter and the platform allows women to find others with similar interests from across the country and around the world. These social media interactions can lead to collaboration on publications, invitations for speaking engagements, and other academic opportunities that set women up for promotion.
Pay it forward.
“The more women we have in positions of power, making or handling money, deciding who that money goes to, the better. We need women hiring women, women giving women that meeting, that chance to build something. That is how we will start seeing real change in the workplace.”3 How do we pay it forward in medicine? As champion of gender equity Dr. Julie Silver said at the She Leads Healthcare conference, “Invite her. Cite her. Quote her. Sponsor her. Recognize her. Pay her. Promote her.” Look for opportunities to amplify the work of the women around you.
Start by starting, collaborate instead of compete, find your tribe, and pay it forward. These actions may just turn a career as a female physician into a WorkParty after all.
- Statistics — Group on Women in Medicine and Science (GWIMS) — Member Center — AAMC. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.aamc.org/members/gwims/statistics/
- Chandler, M. A. (2018, January 22). Women are now a majority of entering medical students nationwide. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/women-are-now-a-majority-of-entering-medical-students-nationwide/2018/01/22/b2eb00e8-f22e-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.237dcb474920
- Johnson, J. (2018). WORKPARTY: How to create & cultivate the career of your dreams. New York: Gallery Books.
- Mohr, T. S. (2018, March 02). Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified
- Ibarra, H. (2010). Women are over-mentored (but under-sponsored). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/08/women-are-over-mentored-but-un