I've been thinking a lot about feminism lately, and thinking about women in the workplace. As I'm taking steps to re-entering the work force, I've been thinking about all of the statistics about how women aren't paid as much as men for the same job, or how women hit glass ceilings, and how women face sexual harassment so often on the job.
I don't doubt these statistics, and when I worked in food service, I understood first hand about sexual harassment. Having a manager offer to do your side work for you if you had sex with him in the walk in---that counts as sexual harassment, right? If it doesn't, it should at least rate very high on the ick-o-meter. I'm fairly certain, though, that having the cook yell at me that my butt hairs were probably gray definitely counts. Nobody should have to discuss butt hairs while making a salad.
But once I started working full time as an SLP, I didn't have any of these problems. This happened for 2 reasons: 1) Most of my coworkers were women and 2) In 6 years of practice, I only had one male boss. The rest of my supervisors/managers were women.
I'm working now towards doing hippo therapy, i.e., speech therapy with a student while she is riding a horse. I have to jump through lots of hoops and take lots of classes and I have absolutely oodles of stuff to learn, but again, without exception, I am learning from and working with other women.
That's not to say that there aren't men engaged in rehab. I know plenty of male physical therapists. There are fewer male occupational therapists, although I've worked with some. I've worked with exactly one male speech therapist. One. He was excellent, and taught me a ton. But he's the only dude I've ever had a professional relationship with.
In reflecting on why this is, I started thinking about other medical stuff I have. My eye doctor who did my cataract surgery is a woman. The doctor who did my daughter's eye surgery is a woman. My local nephrologist is a woman. The doctor who delivered my daughter and got me through a high risk pregnancy was a woman. I picked a midwife to deliver my son, so both times I gave birth, I was surrounded by women. The veterinary practice I take my dog to is staffed by women, with female vets and female vet techs. I have male doctors too, obviously, but my medical history and professional experience has taught me that women are very much a part of this game.
I don't know why my own profession is dominated by women, and somebody could probably base an entire research project on it (and somebody probably has). I think it's interesting that therapeutic horseback riding is so dominated by women, too, and that probably could also be an entire research paper. But whatever the reason, it makes me glad that women can be a part of exciting and interesting and gratifying careers if they so choose, that we live in a time where I can talk about how many medical professionals that surround me are women, and nobody seems surprised. Dire headlines about women's rights aside, my own experiences give me hope for the future, and hope for my daughter's choices in this world. Making choices is hard, and balancing family and a career can be very hard (and is an entirely different topic that people can and do talk about forever), but I'm glad the choices are there.
Also, I like that when I go to the barn, nobody is going to comment on my butt hairs.