Moving Toward Equity
Catherine DeAngelis, MD, MPH
As told to Susan Perlof
All my life I have hoped that women would have equity with men. The natural differences between the genders should be used to the advantage of both. One of my favorite jokes is that, if you have two of any good thing, you are better off. But if you have two X chromosomes, it seems to work against you. We’re moving toward equity, but we’re not there yet.
Biological differences certainly put women in a separate category. Women have to bear and care for children, and child-bearing age occurs at an age when most men are revving up their careers.
Consider work as a superhighway. When women bear children, they bow out or decrease their input for a while. They drive more slowly on the off-ramp or the access road. Professions have to allow on- and off-ramps for both women and men. Women might need to drive – or park – for a year or two – more than once, if they have more children. Then they need entrée to the access road, the on-ramp and the highway. Men, too, should have off-ramp permits while they care for children.
If we could acknowledge that women do things differently – and allow – even help – them to achieve their full potential, we could stop wasting so much intellect and creativity.
I define “success” for women by what makes them happy. For me, medicine and medical science are essential to my happiness, and I am also happily married. My two sisters could not be more different, yet all three of us are happy with what we do. My older sister is happily married, a wonderful baker, beloved in her small town. My younger sister who was a nurse until she retired to help care for our parents. She has four children, and grandchildren come and go at her house as though it were Grand Central Station.
The highway of careers is for men and women who want careers. The on- and off-ramps help women who want both work and family. We should not measure all men, nor all women, by a single standard. Women should have equity with men.
Want to learn more about Catherine DeAngelis? Click here to view her biography.