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SHWETA SHARMA

I was a practicing dentist in India for nine years and some life altering events led me to change my track. Now, I’m getting a Masters of Public Health in Epidemiology with a minor in biostatistics. When I first started working in India, I was married. I can give you a perspective as a professional and a married person. I had certain duties to perform as a married woman, which was not going well with my profession because it’s demanding being a doctor; you cannot just leave your patients hanging. As a woman in India and if you are married, it’s a challenge to work in a demanding field. I was the one managing my clinic and I was partially responsible for my earnings of the clinic. 

 

Socially, everything that is related to the so-called “woman’s duty” is still prevalent in people with higher education or a part of higher societies. As a professional, I have seen that people who come and seek treatment are more comfortable when there is a male doctor rather than female. I find this weird because we learn the same material, understand everything, and try to implement everything in a proper way. According to research, we, as women, are more capable of compartmentalizing things and follow protocol. Even in my medical school courses, professors would come in and look at women in the class and say “we don’t have to worry about them - they’ll get married soon anyways”. The ironic thing is that those women are currently top practitioners in their clinics in the United States and in Canada. 

 

Once, a patient entered the clinic and asked me about the treatment, its cost, and how can you proceed with this disease. While I was talking he was not looking at me but at my junior doctor. I calmly explained that I was the owner of the clinic and if he was interested in hearing professional advice, he should listen to what I was saying before looking at my junior employee. It opened my eyes to how persistent gender biases still are within our societies. If women are still not respected in these male-dominated fields, there can be no claim on gender equality. The gender roles already instilled into growing kids but now it’s important to try to break these gender roles down.