CC: Female physician wearing scrubs, #wearfigs
History of Presenting Illness (HPI):
Figs is a scrubs company owned by females
The company released an ad for their scrubs x 1 day
The ad portrayed a female physician as (in no particular order):
Dumb (Reading “Medical Terminology for Dummies” upside down)
Very, very young
Wearing stereotypical bubble gum “Barbie” pink scrubs
Sexualized, with close-up shots of said female’s posterior and pelvis
A “DO” physician, as identified by her ID badge
Past Medical History:
In 2015, there were 859,848 total active physicians across all specialties. Two hundred ninety-two thousand three (292,300) were women, which equaled 34% of the physician workforce.
In 2019, male physicians still outnumbered female doctors, 64% to 36%.
Also, in 2019, females comprised 50.5% of all medical school students.
Hispanic applicants, Latino, or Spanish origin increased 5.1% (5,858), and matriculants grew 6.3% (2,466).
Black or African American applicants rose by 0.6% (5,193), and matriculants increased by 3.2% (1,916).
American Indian and Alaska Native applicants grew by 4.8% (586), and matriculants in this category rose 5.5% (230).
Despite the challenges faced by female physicians, we have demonstrated lower mortality and readmissions for hospitalized patients than our male counterparts.
1. Earn less money than their male counterparts
2. Are more likely to get divorced due to long hours
3. Are at a higher risk for “burnout” and depression
4. Still bear the brunt of the burden of household and childcare duties
5. Are more likely to be harassed at work
6. Have a higher risk of experiencing bias from other employees and patients
7. Are less likely to be promoted at work
8. Are less likely to move into leadership positions
9. Experience near-daily microaggressions
Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that society can not function without the women who have thanklessly had to double down both at work and home.
Review of Systems:
Data: see above
1. Sexism / Misogyny
* Lies, stereotypes, and myths about women that both men and women hear over lifetimes
i. For example:
1. Women can’t be physicians
* Internalized misogyny (aka “horizontal hostility”): women act out the lies and stereotypes perpetuated
i. For example:
1. Female-owned company portrays female physicians as reading books for dummies upside down
2. Female-owned company portrays female physicians as wearing pink
* Discriminatory practice against people of a certain age who have devoted their lives to learning and perfecting a craft
*, DO physician displayed in the ad looks young enough to be a medical student, maybe? Was that the intention?
* 56.2% of American physicians are white
* Displayed DO physician does not represent 43.8% of physicians
4. Body misrepresentation
* It is true that physicians frequently skip meals to take care of patients. The physician represented in this ad still doesn’t fit the “average” woman
* Objectification of said DO physician by focusing on specific body parts
5. Inaccurate representation of what a DO is
* DO’s complete four years of medical school, just like MDs
* DO’s complete accredited residencies, just like MDs
6. Everyone loves to “hate on” physicians until they need one
7. Media representation of physicians is not a favorable one
1. Remember that only 36% of American physicians are women, and we face numerous challenges as is. Companies need to check the internal biases and misogyny evidenced in their ads and think twice before posting
2. Acknowledge that female physicians come in all colors and shapes
3. Acknowledge that female physicians can wear any color of their choosing, not just pink (but also including pink, should they desire). They may again wear bikinis if they choose, referencing the #medbikini campaign from earlier this year.
4. Offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to female physicians for underestimating their intelligence and resilience
5. Offer a sincere and heartfelt apology to DOs for portraying them as idiots
6. Get rid of the “Medical Terminology for Dummies” since those of us who are actually taking care of patients already know the vocabulary from reading much more advanced textbooks. Many of these same textbooks have been authored and co-authored by female physicians.
7. Acknowledge that physicians, nurses, and healthcare staff suffered greatly in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Extend a little kindness for crying out loud. We don’t need to be the brunt of your lame humor.
8. Boycott Figs
9. Look into other options for scrubs:
* Fabled (female physician-owned)
* Jaanu (female physician-owned)
* Blue Skye (female physician-owned)
* APlus Medical Scrubs (female physician-owned)
* Kalea (female physician-owned)
* Dope Scrubs
* Uniform Advantage butter soft
10. Commit to proper media portrayal of how a female physician looks and behaves.
Uzma Khan, MD, is a practicing Internist and a Women in White Coats writer’s fellow. She blogs about medicine, money and life at http://www.meandmystethoscope.com/, and she can be found on Facebook Uzma Khan, MD, Instagram @uzmakhanmd and Twitter @uzmakhanmd
What a great article! So well written.