Category Archives: Journalists
Last week, on the New York Times Well Blog, New York University School of Medicine professor Danielle Ofri, MD, wrote about the "perception bias" that doctors are male. These presumptions persist, she writes, even though they lag far behind reality at this time when about half of students in medical schools are female.
Ofri recounts a letter she received from a college professor explaining that after reading one of her essays, more than half of his students assumed she was a man, despite her name. She writes:
Part of me finds this entirely ridiculous and impossible to believe in this day and age — except that I’ve fallen into the same trap. One of my patients recently saw a pulmonologist at another hospital. “Would you call Dr. Marcus about my X-ray results?” the patient asked.
“Sure,” I replied. “I’ll give him a call this afternoon.”
“She,” my patient gently chided.
Perhaps change simply takes longer than we expect. My own children were born almost two decades after those college freshmen were born. We’ve had three pediatricians over the years, and all were women. In their day care center — associated with the hospital — almost every child’s mother was a doctor.
One day, my daughter came home reporting an amazing discovery. “Jacob’s father is a doctor too,” she exclaimed. “Just like Jacob’s mother!” In her world, it simply had never dawned on her that “doctor” could equal “man.” If that 1979 preschooler study [where young children “knew” that doctors were men and nurses were female] were repeated on her generation, I suspect the results would be different.
In the end, though, I wonder how important it really is. After all, we have multitudes of preconceptions about doctors, writers — all people, in fact — and sex is only one of them.
What do you think? Is there still an assumption that physicians are men, or is it changing? Does it matter? What, if anything, should we be doing to change gender stereotypes in medicine? Register below to leave a comment.
By Linda Wright Moore
RWJF Senior Communications Officer
Attending the 36th annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) last week in Philadelphia provided an opportunity to reflect on the many challenges facing reporters and the news industry in the 21st century. It was also a personal trip down my professional memory lane.
At the start of my career, as a television reporter and anchor, I attended my first NABJ annual meeting in New Orleans in 1983. The organization was small back then – just a few hundred members. We all knew each other by name. Fast forward to 2011, and I was happy to connect with old friends, including founders of the organization.
The group has grown dramatically to 3,000 members, and more than 2,500 people attended the Philadelphia gathering. The profession of journalism and newsgathering has also been transformed in response to tectonic shifts in the way we gather and disseminate information. Consider: “publisher” used to define an institution that had capacity to print a book, newspaper or magazine. Now, it’s anyone with a laptop, an Internet connection and something to say.
But don’t be fooled. The explosive growth of information and ease of access to it do not mean that journalism is a dying craft. In this 21st century age of information overload – where opinion, conjecture and even fiction can masquerade as fact – the ability to find credible, engaging, reliable sources of news and information is more valuable than ever. A free press is still the cornerstone of democracy – enabling us to make informed decisions about political leaders and policies. And we also rely on media to keep us informed about issues and policies affecting every aspect of our lives, including our health and health care.
At the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) booth at the NABJ Career Fair & Exhibition, we provided an array of information about Foundation programs – touching on the work of every team: Childhood Obesity, Coverage, Pioneer, Public Health, Quality/Equality, Vulnerable Populations and Human Capital. We distributed the first edition of the Human Capital Expert Resource Guide, which highlights the work and expertise of selected RWJF scholars, fellows and leaders with a focus on issues of concern to Black and Latino communities. We hope it will be a useful source of experts to interview for reporters developing stories around health and health care issues. Take a look and let us know how we can make future editions more useful for journalists and other researchers.