Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Childcare Double Standard

The boss was frantically emailing all the anesthesiologists the other day. Apparently somebody called in "sick" and couldn't cover their call, an all too frequent occurrence around the holidays, or any long weekend for that matter. Can somebody please pick up an extra call so that the OR's can continue to run smoothly?

Almost immediately, one of the female anesthesiologists piped up and announced that she couldn't take an unplanned call. She has "childcare issues" and couldn't be expected to help out her partners. Somehow I'm not surprised by this but it still irks me.

Why is it the women can pull the childcare card out at their convenience to get out of work while the same would not be acceptable for men. I remember years ago when my children were small and both of them and the wife all fell sick with a cold. I asked for a day off to help out at home. You would not believe the earful I got from the boss about how this was totally unacceptable. He just couldn't understand why I needed to stay at home to take care of my sick family and how this was burdening the rest of the anesthesiologists who have to cover for my absence. I wound up getting more time off from work than I asked for as punishment for my impudence.

But nobody blinks twice when women say they need to take time off to take care of the family. As a matter of fact, nobody dares question women about why they want to take a day off. It's just assumed they have family issues they need to help with. If men ask for time away, it couldn't possibly be for domestic issues--they must want to drink beer and catch a ball game or hit the beach. They couldn't have a legitimate reason for leaving work.

The implication when women say they have childcare issues at home and can't help out is that only men should be asked next time. Why ask the women when ninety percent of the time they will say no while the men do not have that option. Yet they want pay parity with their male colleagues even though they don't want to put in the hours?

Let's see what happens as medicine becomes a progressively female profession. Women now make up over fifty percent of medical students. What happens when the majority of physicians are female? Will a patient's healthcare access be limited by their doctor's sniffling three year old at home? Who's going to take care of the emergency at 10:00 PM when most of the doctor's can't be expected to leave their family at home to come in? Will medical costs rise because the hospital has to hire more physicians?

Maybe male doctors should have a #MeToo movement of our own--I also don't want to take extra calls to cover for somebody else's domestic issues. But the double standard against men keeps me from getting away with it.

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