-Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker I wake up every morning and without fail, spend atleast ten painstaking minutes standing in front of my wardrobe thinking what to wear. And every single day, for as many years as I can remember, I have been plagued by this […]
Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker MS, Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Mumbai, India The business of saving lives begins in the company of death. For most of us something changed the moment we walked into the anatomy dissection hall on the first day of our medical […]
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
The other day I saw a tweet from United Nations about the gap in gender pay parity. “Worldover……women across professions, earn 20 to 30% less than men.”
It has been quite sometime and I just cannot get the figures out of my system. I googled the figures for pay parity in healthcare and there were no surprises there. Women in medicine can earn upto 37% lesser than their male colleagues .
Over the years, I have trained many young surgeons, while most of them were men, there were some young ladies as well. I will not talk about myself yet. That’s for later.
Well, all trainee surgeons are different but when I think hard, there were a few basic traits that seperated male trainees from the ladies. I may be biased, but the ladies were in general more sincere, more loyal, more punctual, more empathetic and better workers. The boys were good too, but the girls certainly scored over them. The girls were also more inclined to follow the rule book and accept dissent and criticism more wilfully.
When it came to surgeries, boys were certainly more proactive in asking the bosses to allow them to operate. And the ladies… well they patiently waited their turn. They would believe that they would be fairly rewarded for their sincere and hard work. They were less forthcoming and certainly not as vociferous as the boys. Well, surgery is one branch where the more hands-on you get, the better you become. No guesses here about who would eventually turn out to be more surgically skilled. Women would either get disgruntled with the system and leave or ended up spending much longer time to attain the same skills as men. And mind you …… this was not because they were bad surgeons, it was mainly because they never would ask!
In general, women hesitate to ask or assert. They rarely question when others make their decisions for them. They do not negotiate and tend to give in easily. Hence a lady doctor who may be more capable than her male colleagues may actually end up with much lesser on her plate.
Why do women do this? Taking my own example, I was uncomfortable around money matters. I tended to avoid financial discussions. I was happy if someone else did that on my behalf. In my entire career I only focused on work ethics and skill development, never gave much heed to finances. Well, these traits are not limited to me alone, I am sure that a lot of women will identify with me. Some of us actually take pride in our ignorance about financial issues and no wonder the gap in gender pay parity is ever increasing.
“The real issue here is that women are nurturers by nature. We tend to derive our value from being needed and not by being rewarded.”
While many times women are ignorant about what their colleagues are taking home, organizations are also not transparent about pay scales between employees. It is totally possible that the woman employee may be the most capable, appreciated or honoured in the workplace but her take home salary may not be at par with her male counterparts. Would she be aware of this disparity? Probably yes or may be not. Would she go back to the boss’s office to renegotiate? I think not. What we need to remember is that sometimes even “excellence” can be taken for granted and one may need to remind the organization about its value from time to time.
I have also come across a few lady doctors who were more assertive and did not hesitate to call a spade as a spade. What do we think about them? Honest confession, at times I have myself labelled those women as being too pushy or bossy! Too forthcoming… is what I would think of them! Would I think the same way about a male colleague with similar traits? Probably not. This is where the problem lies. Even women themselves dont think kindly about other women who are more assertive. Somewhere we like being the underdog! Do women bosses play a fair game when it comes to them? I don’t have the answer to that.
Ofcourse, we need better work place policies, we need more understanding bosses and there is a need to empower women. But most of all what we need to change is, ourselves. We need to introspect take charge and be more assertive. We have to learn to value ourselves before we expect others to value us. We need to stop cringing from financial discussions and have to understand that money is not evil. It is just a way to value our expertise. By accepting less, we undervalue ourselves. The gap in gender pay parity may not fill in the near future but we need to start somewhere and that place is within us.
Because ultimately we need to be the change that we want to see in the world.
– Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker is a bariatric and Laparoscopic surgeon.
By Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon There are only two types of surgeons. Those who have had surgical complications and those who are going to have. The law of averages catches up with us eventually. As the old adge goes, if you […]
I am a Mumbai girl and nothing defines Mumbai better than its local trains. Over the last few months, I have gradually shifted to using local trains a lot more than my car, which to be honest is more of a burden than convenience, in this over crowded city. Trains are undoubtedly faster when one has to get to multiple hospitals in a single day. Deep down I also feel happy about indirectly reducing my overall carbon footprint and doing my bit for the future generation.
Local train journeys in Mumbai can be quite entertaining and I have come to enjoy them mostly. (Except for the times when one may get crushed to near death!) Very often there are small time vendors selling their goods to the passengers. On one such day, I observed an old lady who walked with the support of a stick. She was extremely frail and bent over. Her head kept shaking with the slightest of movement. She must be in her eighties nearing ninety for sure. As I saw her boarding the train, I thought of getting up and giving her my seat. However, I was in for a pleasant surprise. As she entered the train compartment, she stabilized herself on her stick and took out a dozen colourful bracelets from a worn out bag to sell to the passengers. Now, I am not very fond of jewellary but that day, I felt compelled to buy that bracelet. I paid ten rupees and kept it in my bag, knowing fully well that I will never wear it.
A few days later, I saw her again. Bent over her stick, with her head shaking all the time, there she was. Once again, I felt compelled to buy one of the bracelets. The third time this happened, I saw a glint of recognition in her eyes and a tiny hint of a smile. As she glanced at my empty wrists, none of us needed to say anything.
It has been 3 months since I saw her last. Every time I am in that train, my eyes look for her. I wonder if she is well, as I have no way of knowing her whereabouts.
However, the bracelet has found its permanent place as it lies in my bag. I am not superstitious but it is my lucky charm. A charm that reminds me that age is just a number and it is always possible to earn a respectable living till our last breath. Every time I open my bag, the shiny bracelet looks up at me and inspires me to go on, to work hard and to live life to its best potential. And one day, when I close my eyes forever, I will lie there peacefully knowing that I gave it my best, always.
#HerStory #inspiration #motivation #draparnagovilbhasker
Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker Bariatric and Laparoscopic GI Surgeon, Global Hospital, Parel; Apollo group of hospitals, Currae hospital, Thane; Namaha and Suchak Hospitals, Kandivali and Malad It is widely believed that the cohort of children born in the year 2000 in the USA, may live […]
©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker
Come December and its the season of weddings. Be it DeepVeer, Nickyanka or the Ambani extravaganza, this year it seems to be unending. Social media has gone into a frantic frenzy with hundreds of shared images of exquisite wedding locales, star studded finery and mouth watering quisine! …..You can’t blame me from feeling a tad jealous of our dear, Sabyasachi! The man can practically retire now with enough savings for the next three generations! …..Having said that, if I am subjected to viewing anymore WhatsApp videos and pictures of weddings, I will probably start pulling my hair off!
Talking about the unfairness that life bestows upon us, the luck of a good looking but written off heir has suddenly turned around and jitters are being felt all over. Even Lord Ram himself could not prevent this from happening! The half blood prince has defied the odds and it looks like the tug of war has just become a wee bit more difficult. Well, luck does favour a few, however it seems like the political discussions have shifted base from being living room conversations to WhatsApp group conversations with members being divided into different camps… Unfortunately, more often than not, it hardly takes any time for these conversations to transform into acrimonious arguements. Social media lets you hide behind the anonymity of your phone and somehow it is always easier to be rude to a “message” than to a person.
And while most of us lowly mortals have to employ agencies to beef up the following of our social media accounts, there is a star baby that has become an instant internet sensation and has more than a million instagram followers who ogle at his every move! Mind you the following is consistent for over a year which is almost as long as he has been on this earth! Ofcourse this is the aspiration that parents must set for their newborn babies! Being a social media celebrity carries more significance today than getting good grades in school! Who cares if your kid has topped the class or won a difficult debate. The paradigm has shifted and today success is judged on the basis of totally different parameters.
So what is it that I am getting at? We all are aware that media is one of the least trusted institutions in the history of mankind. We already know that whatever the media feeds us has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
However, what about social media? In my mind social media is the true reflection of the society that we live in. While conventional media shoves things down our throats, social media is what we “want” to see….
Unfortunately, today I dont see much difference between what is shown to us and what we want to see. And that is the concerning bit. We are so taken with the irrelevant, that most of us are forgetting what is relevant to us. We spend hours scrolling on our phones looking at stuff that is of no significance. We ogle and quibble incessantly about insignificant trivia. We feel compelled to respond and react to stuff thay may or may not concern us directly. Our ability to express an uncensored opinion obviously boosts our ego and gives us a false sense of importance.
In times to come, I guess self restraint will be an extinct quality and all we will get to hear is incomprehensible noise.
There is no doubt that social media is powerful and just like every other powerful medium, it can go both ways. Potential for good is as high as potential for harm. With great power comes great responsibility and this time the onus lies on us. Lastly, I pray that while social media continues to rule our lives, we stop treating people as just a “number” and begin to look at them as a “person” once again.
©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker As the year comes to an end, we finally wrapped up writing, editing, rediting and re-re- editing our book on doctor- patient relationships. Oh no…dont get me wrong! This is not a promotional post! Those will come later :), closer to […]