“Not depending on anyone else for your emotional happiness or strength is important to me….A strong woman doesn’t need to depend on other people to make her happy.”

Name: Jennifer
Race/ethnicity: Indian
Age: early 30’s
Career/Profession: Emergency Physician

Have you ever been told something you don’t think a man would ever be told?
J: After a long shift as an attending. I was driving home through Oakland and had stopped at a stoplight. A guy who was crossing the street told me to smile. He had no idea that I had just had a really rough shift. I didn’t feel like smiling…. people feel free to tell women to smile for some reason.

What is the most frustrating/challenging thing about being a woman today?
J: Being told that being single or childless must be really hard or frustrating or sad. When I was single, I was happy with my life and enjoyed life. Being in a relationship adds to my life but it doesn’t take away from the happiness that I already had in my single life. I’m tired of people thinking that single people or childless women always want to be in relationships or have babies. That’s not always the case. A lot of women want to be single and don’t want to have children. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. People automatically think that there is something wrong with you if you don’t want to be in a relationship or if you don’t want to have children. I remember being very young (college age) when my parents started asking me when I was getting married.

Have you faced any personal or professional struggles because you are a woman?
J: Patients, paramedics and other staff in general just assume that I’m a nurse because I’m female. A lot of times in residency and even as an attending, patients will ask when they’re going to see the doctor even though I’ve already seen them. Patients somehow don’t seem to understand that me walking in with scrubs and a white coat and introducing myself as doctor means that I’m the doctor. One time, I went into a room with a male scribe. I was wearing scrubs and a white coat and my stethoscope. The male scribe was wearing regular street clothes and did not have a white coat on. The patient immediately looked at the male scribe and said “oh are you my doctor?” I had to correct him and say “no sir I am your doctor.” I’m pretty sure that male doctors don’t get this.
A lot of male doctors will call me by my first name. Even though I call these doctors by their last name (Dr so and so) they seem to think it’s OK to call me by my first name even though I’ve not told them to do that.

What/who/which events have inspired you to become the person you are today?
J: I have parents who raised me to believe that girls and boys can do the same thing. It was always assumed that I would get a higher education and be financially stable. It was also assumed however that I would be married and have children too. I never felt that as a girl I was supposed to grow up and rely on someone else. I think growing up in a family where my mother was financially relying on my dad made me realize that that’s not what I wanted.



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