Congratulations, ladies, we will have a Second Gentleman!
Now you may ask why I am celebrating this? We will soon be witnessing the inauguration of Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden. This inauguration is going to be historic and groundbreaking in many ways. We will have a woman of color of Black and South Asian descent in the White House, and a First Lady who is an educator with a Ph.D., Dr. Jill Biden. And in Douglas Emhoff, we will have the first Jewish spouse of a US Vice President.
This is also, very importantly, a testament to the fact that women, including women doctors, can play many roles successfully. We can be wives, mothers, or stepmothers and have fulfilling careers. We can also have male spouses that can either choose to stay at home and support our work while taking care of the home front or work outside the home as they see fit.
In the 80s and 90s, most doctors, usually males, had stay at home wives. These doctors came home to dinner on the table and never had to worry about childcare or the labor that goes into the smooth running of the household. Presently more and more women doctors are part of a dual-earnings family (such as mine) or are the primary breadwinners where the male spouse, despite having his successful career, decides to take on the traditional role at home caring for the children and household needs.
As part of a dual physician family, I often wished I had a “wife” at home like my male partners. Unfortunately, as a busy cardiologist, my husband often wished the same for himself. Despite that, he supported my career, and we made it work, though not without great difficulties and a wonderful Nanny.
I am glad that Douglas Emhoff, our soon to be Second Gentleman, has decided to leave his law firm to focus on his role as the future Vice President’s spouse. He plans to pick up some teaching opportunities at Georgetown Law, but in the interim, he has already opened a Twitter account @SecondGentleman, devoted dad, proud husband.
I am sure they would have made it work even if he decided to continue with his job as before, but his stated primary goal of supporting his wife, Vice President-elect, just makes my heart smile.
Ladies, we have indeed come a long way!
Dr. Anupama Verma is the Editor-in-Chief of the Women in White Coats blog and a CoAuthor of “The Chronicles of Women in White Coats book two. She is a nephrologist who has been practicing for more than fifteen years and has lived on four continents. She is on Instagram and Twitter @anuvmd.