“I had basically thrown myself into a men’s club at the age of 26, as general surgery is sort of the last bastion of maleness,” said Terre McGlothin, a breast cancer surgeon and owner of Breast Cancer Surgeons of Texas, as she compared her early career to a Dallas Cowboys locker room. “It was like stacking two hats on my head. I was a girl, but got counted as a member of a guy’s group.”
Four women leaders each representing hospital administration, pediatrics, surgery, and nursing were invited to speak at the Women Leaders Healthcare Breakfast Panel on August 28th to share their insights and struggles working as a woman in a male-dominated work environment.
Nancy Vish, President and Chief Nursing Officer of Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital, described how she’d seen multiple units collapse due to the nasty gossip generated about one-on-one coaching situations, when inquired to elaborate on the negative connotations permeating women-to-men interactions in the business scene.
Dr. Maeve Sheehan, professor of pediatrics at UT Southwestern shared her tactics of holding meetings open and often as a means of thwarting unnecessary speculations, as “hosting meetings behind closed doors leads to people putting their own turn on things.”
All four speakers were eager to touch on their upbringing and how their parents had instilled the value that they could grow up to be anything they desired. Sharn Barbarin, CEO of Medical City Lewisville, described her phenomenal family in which there were no gender biases or stereotypes to be found. “When it was time to cook dinner, my brother and I were both required to participate,” she says, “And that laid a superb foundation for me, as I was surrounded by an environment where the world was mine to take.” The panelists then went forward to encourage the audience to pay close attention when rearing their daughters, as they themselves had blossomed into living proof that bringing up children to believe that the sky is the limit is fundamental to success in later life.
When a member of the audience decided to whip the elephant in the room by asking the panelists how they had dealt with the gender pay gap, Sheehan emphasized that the trending, three-syllable sentence to use in the workforce nowadays was “Put me up.” “The message today is that you have to stand up and actually advocate for yourself. A lot of times you get exactly what you ask for, so never accept less. You’re worth more.” She urged her fellow women counterparts to “keep up the savvy,” as she had met many others that had simply allowed themselves to be “underpaid, underappreciated, and overlooked” while negotiating monetary matters.
The unanimous conclusion deducted from this panel was that women leaders should under no circumstances feel inclined to be “the man of the office.” All panelists accentuated that women should “embrace their strengths, dress the way they want to dress, and keep away from fitting themselves into a square peg over time.” Let’s take on their advice and try to be the best version of ourselves, and not what somebody else thinks we should be.