AMWA Initiatives

The American Medical Women’s Association advocates to bring under-addressed issues to the forefront of the national agenda.
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Gender Equity Task Force

Mission

The American Medical Women’s Association Gender Equity Task Force (AMWA GETF) strives to accomplish gender equity as a fact of life in society, and to engage in activities, action and collaborations pursuant to this goal, beginning with the healthcare industry of which women physicians are one component.

Goals and Objectives

1. Educate all healthcare professionals on the importance of establishing gender equity in the healthcare system, starting with women physicians.

2. Emphasize the importance of gender equity as a work force and health care reform issue.

3. Further the American Medical Women’s Association’s goal of forming a networking alliance among all female physicians and female physician organizations by creating a database of contacts.

4. Create a library of useful resources that we can share with others on Gender Equity in the medical profession.

5. Research and identify other organizations with gender equity initiatives.

6. Create a networking database with other organizations with gender equity initiatives – Gimbalvo Grant.

7. Create a speaker’s bureau targeting speakers on gender equity issues.

8. Create educational materials defining gender equity issues.

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Position

The Gender Equity Task Force (GETF) of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) holds the position that gender equity must be the standard in every sphere of the medical establishment, as well as American society. All conduct that deviates from this standard, at every level of power and influence, is inherently unethical and unlawful, and cannot be tolerated or excused. Laws give women the right to gender equity, to be free from discrimination on the basis of gender in all areas of their lives. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) gives women, in equality with men, the inalienable right to be free from discrimination on the basis of gender (Article 2). Women pursuing the profession of medicine, in all its forms and at every stage of progress, have these rights throughout their lifespan. Women have the right, as do men, to redress their grievances when their rights as individual human persons are violated. That is de jure. (ref. Laws below) De facto is different. Women who know their right to gender equity, and try to exercise their rights, to correct wrongs done to them and protest violations of their rights, are commonly subject to retaliation. Retaliation ranges from damning with faint praise, untrue and unfair evaluation, diagnoses that discredit, disparagement, exclusion, disadvantage, de facto discrimination, blacklisting, character assassination, firing, loss of livelihood, and loss of profession, through to include, tragically, loss of life. All of the women who suffer such retaliation are directly harmed by this unethical conduct, often indelibly for a lifetime. This is inexcusable and unjustifiable. Retaliatory conduct is repugnant, unethical and unlawful. Therefore, these practices, and the policies that enable them, must stop, and serious negative consequences be created for those who choose to retaliate and do harm. A hostile work environment impedes the optimum development of human potential. AMWA holds the position that there must be zero tolerance of gender stereotyping, gendered harassment, disparities in compensation, disparities in access to career development resources, the creation of a hostile work or learning environment. Ultimately all conduct that deviates from true gender equity harmfully impacts the care given by both women and men physicians. It is the position of AMWA that it is the duty of all persons in the medical establishment of America, in every position and functional capacity, to ensure gender equity is a living reality for all women and men. References: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Civil Rights Act, Title VII Equal Employment Opportunity Act, An Overview of Women in Academic Medicine, AAMC Analysis Vol. 6, Number 7 Policy on Creating a Gender Neutral Workplace Respectfully Submitted: Joyce Braak, MD; Linda Brodsky, MD; Roberta Gebhard; Ryan Smith, MS3; Vanessa Coleman, MS1. September 2010

Get Involved

 Contact our Chair Roberta Gebhard DO (716) 479-3860 OR email: docgebhard@gmail.com

About the Gender Equity Task Force

Workforce planning is critical to health care reform. With women physicians making up 50% of the graduating medical school classes, women are the fastest growing demographic in the physician workforce today. In 2011, Dr. Roberta Gebhard founded the Gender Equity Task Force amongst fellow members of the American Medical Women’s Association. She recruited her colleague and friend Dr. Linda Brodsky to co-chair the committee with her. During 2010, the Gender Equity Task force wrote its mission statement and position paper, in addition to, compiling a list of all women physician organizations, and their contacts, in which women physicians have chosen to organize. Together they created a webinar entitled Achieving Gender Equity for Women Physicians for AMWA’s networking alliance. Following the webinar, the gender equity task force was asked to comment as an authority on gender discrepancies in medicine, specifically with relation to pay discrepancies between male and female physicians upon entry into the physician workforce. At AMWA’s 2011 Annual Meeting, the gender equity task force presented their goals for 2012 to AMWA’s networking alliance and formulated new goals for their 2012 agenda. For the upcoming year, the gender equity task force aims to unify all the women in medicine into a workforce study group using the existing structures that bring women physicians together in organized medicine and to create a longitudinal, relational data base that will serve as a data set that is systemic and helps us to not only answer specific questions, but also to direct us to ask the right questions, not yet addressed by current research. Additionally, the gender equity task force aims to improve AMWA’s advocacy efforts by addressing gender inequity and workforce planning as a health care reform issue. With the predicted physician shortages, our ability to fully understand and to optimally harness the work habits of women physicians are critical to the future of medical care in the US. Finally, the gender equity task force aims to contribute to the medical literature on topics relating to the impact of gender discrimination on the woman physician, the importance of appropriate gender specific linguistics, and the health of women physicians during pregnancy. Planning Grant: Creating the Foundation for Study of Women Physicians in the 21st Century Principle Investigator: Linda Brodsky, MD, Co-Chair, American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), Gender Equity Task Force (GETF) Co-Investigator: Roberta Gebhard, DO, Co-Chair, AMWA GETF Consultant: Jean Moore, BSN, MSN, Director, SUNY Albany School of Public Health, Center for Health Workforce Studies Background: Women are the fastest growing demographic in the physician workforce today. Research has shown that their acceptance and, by extension, full use of their talents, are sub-optimal in order to meet not only their own professional goals but also the healthcare needs of society. Physician shortages are predicted, and, unfortunately the onus is already being placed on the heads of women who may have different work styles and schedules. Thus our abilities to fully understand and to optimally harness the work habits of women physicians are critical to the future of medical care in the US. To date, studies about women in medicine are limited in their abilities to extract specific data from this heterogeneous group of physicians. Reliance on small cohorts to make generalizations has continued stereotypes and produced conflicting results, depending on the group studied. Much of the information is inadequate to identify and address the needs of women physicians and thereby advance their progress in the medical profession. Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is to create structures and build tools in preparation for a larger, multi-year grant (e.g. NIH or NSF) to establish a longitudinal data base capable of tracking women physicians experiences and behaviors. The over-riding goals are to understand this demographic in order to inform policies and to optimize the healthcare workforce for the future. Specific goals of this grant are: To unify all the women in medicine into a workforce study group using the existing structures that bring women physicians together in organized medicine. To create a longitudinal, relational data base that will serve as a data set that is systematic and helps us to not only answer specific questions, but also to direct us to ask the right questions, not yet addressed by current research. Significance of the Work Workforce planning is critical to healthcare reform. Many observations assumptions and are made about women physicians in a body of literature that is just emerging. These studies are all limited because of the inability to gain broad-based, in-depth information across the full spectrum of women’s experiences in medicine. Women physicians are a heterogeneous group of professionals. No single medical organization can represent all women. Accurate, full bodied information is essential to understanding the work habits, experiences and needs of women physicians. Without such information, perpetuation of stereotypes and misinformation about the behavior of any one woman or even the group as a whole persists and has a negative effect on the profession and the patients it serves. Organization of women physicians into a collaborative will result in stronger, more meaningful participation in healthcare delivery. Medical societies and educational institutions continue to be dominated by male physicians, even in specialties where women are the majority, e.g. pediatrics, psychiatry. Thus, the questions posed, based on gendered structures and definitions of productivity, are likely limiting our understanding of the potential of this workforce.
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