Hello SOTGC community,
I hope your week is going well so far. This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with one of our contributors and one of her friends who was a panelist at the Summit of female CEOs a few weeks ago (Emilie Hersh.) Emilie is the CEO of Interknowlogy, which is a Carlsbad based company that creates high-impact software experiences.
We were discussing various topics that ranged from “feedback on what we thought of the first Summit,” to “future summit ideas, speakers, etc,” to “issues that we feel are most prevalent in how to further help women succeed in business.” Emilie told us that she recently attended a school event for her daughter revolving around science, and noticed a huge difference in the number of women versus men in the advanced science classes. She was wondering why that is, and is strongly encouraging her daughter to stay in the science classes that she is currently in. I happen to work in the medical field, and though I am not a walking statistics book, I do spend a TON of time observing my work environment.
What I have noticed (and this is JUST my opinion) is that the majority of the male surgical residents I see are in relationships and/or have a family (wife/kids.) In other words, when they get stressed and tired and emotionally/physically worn down, they have a big support system to come home to. Whereas the majority (at least at the teaching institutions that I work in) of the female surgical residents are not married. I see the amount of hours they work, the stress of endless rotations through various hospitals and sub specialties combined with the constant tests, and I am amazed at how they survive. Most of these people are far from their parents and siblings so the support they could gain from that group is relegated to phone calls and texts.
Add to this the fact that there is an innate feeling (not just in medicine, but for any woman in a male dominated industry) to show no weakness. Don’t let your temper come out or you’ll be seen as a loose cannon. Don’t shed a tear or you’ll be viewed as just another overly emotional girl. Don’t get worked up over something no matter how “fair” or “un fair” it seems to be because people will just ask if it’s “that time of the month.” The first sign of weakness will be viewed as an indication that “she just might not be cut out for this career.” So they tend to bottle in their stress, to release it (if at all) to a small group of friends , and even then, probably not enough to truly garner the kind of emotional support they need and deserve.
I think that creating a strong, reliable, and understanding support group around you is tantamount to surviving a stressful work environment. When I first started at Salient Surgical I was fighting the battle of bringing in a then unknown technology into large hospital systems that do not make it easy to get into. I survived that difficult period, and still do to this day thanks to the support of my mentor who has talked me off the proverbial roof more times than he or I could count. I also had the never ending help of my best friends and Mom who would get phone calls at least once a month where I would cry and say things like: “I am pretty sure I suck SO BAD at sales that if I were to work at Starbucks, people who had been loyal Starbucks customers for life would suddenly switch.” Had I not been given the hugs when I needed them, the pushes of encouragement when my confidence was waning, or the kicks in the butt when I was being my own worst obstacle, I would never have made it and had the success that I’ve been blessed to have.
Now I am not promoting an emotional venting to any and all people in your work environment. Nor am I encouraging people to look at every slight as added fuel to an “it’s just not fair and they’re out to get me” mentality. However, if you take a look around you, can you pin point the crucial members of your support system? And conversely, do you have someone close to you that you care about who you can see is struggling, and have you reached out to let them know you’re there to be of help when they need you?