I'm Not a Feminist, But

"We can do it!" J. Howard Miller

"We can do it!" J. Howard Miller

(Originally posted on the "Adventures of a Sick Doctor" blog)

I think that maybe, possibly, life might be different for girl doctors than boy doctors. 
Not better or worse, just different. 

Let's get a few things straight first.

I have never burned a bra, though some of mine are so old and dishevelled they could very easily just self-combust. 
I shave my armpits frequently, legs slightly less so. ("Good Things About Chemo: Number, eh, the Only One" - body hair growth tends to zero). 
I am very fond of lots of males.
I am more than happy to let someone else take out the bins. That is not a euphemism.

So I don’t fit my own stereotyped view of a feminist.

I am, however, perfectly willing to acknowledge that women have had, historically, the soggy pre-chewn dragged-in-the-mud end of the stick. We have a track record of getting shat on. And it is taking a while for that legacy to shift. 

In 1879, there were nine women doctors in the United Kingdom. A whole nine. 

Those nine women, as ladies do, had a chat.  
They thought, girls, let’s do lunch so we can chat some more. 
Let’s chat about how our patients think we’re nurses, and how we aren’t even sure how we feel about that - nurses are nice, kind, caring - are we not allowed be that too? 
Let's chat about how the man doctors are inclined to ask us to bring them tea. 
Let's chat about how, even though we work ten hours a day, we will still find ourselves being the ones at home reaching under the bed looking for the missing teddy or rubbing the jam off the door handle.

Those women were mighty. They started the Association of Registered Medical Women, which developed into the Medical Women's Federation in 1917.

In 1919, 140 women from 16 different countries met up for a similar chat, and started theMedical Women's International Association. Their provisional constitution had a can't-say-fairer-than-that objective: "exchange ideas and unite efforts for the benefit of mankind".

It turns out there was an Irish branch of the MWIA up to relatively recently, but I had never heard of it. So, a couple of weeks ago when I came across the MWF's advent calendar on Twitter (a different medical woman of note was depicted every day in December), I had a thought.


Turns out, there was indeed an appetite:


Not exactly viral, I know, but still a pretty popular tweet as these things go.

We came up with a hashtag that was too good to be true: #WIMIN - Women in Medicine in Ireland Network.

Then I scurried off and bought a domain, and jimmied up a gmail account, and built a website. Of course, the next trick is to link them all together. Baby steps, chaps, baby steps. 

I am only a girl, after all. 


Sarah Fitzgibbon