Author: Megan Yu

Letter to A Young Girl

This letter is written by a young woman to her earlier self whose career is about to take a huge transformation. In this letter, she reflects on which characteristics and attitudes she wishes to retain and what she hopes to accomplish as she progresses forward to achieving her medical dreams. She also hopes that it will inspire other girls to go confidently as they pursue their scientific careers. Dear Me, I hope you’re well. I cannot tell you what you will encounter in the next four years, the people who will change your life, the experiences that will leave an ingrained memory in your brain. A lot of questions flood my mind as I think about the journey you will go through: Do you still keep your sense of poetry? Your creative writing? Does the idea of taking care of another human being terrify you? Do you still give humorous lectures of how things work in the molecular world? Do you still only eat fish and vegetables just to keep your mental faculties sane? (Please do relax sometimes! And …

Why We Should Talk about Gender Bias and Sexual Harassment in Medical Training

Gender bias and sexual harassment continue to be prevalent issues among medical trainees and practicing physicians. In order to help aspiring female doctors fulfill their career goals, we need to address these issues. Gender bias is a prevalent issue in the workplace today. However, when it comes to medicine, it seems as if a significant amount remains to be resolved. In a 2000 study, among 3,332 full-time faculty, female faculty were 2.5 times more likely to perceive discrimination in the workplace. Among women, rates of reported discrimination ranged from 47% for the youngest faculty to 70% for the oldest faculty. In contrast, less than 3% of male faculty reported such experiences. In addition, in a 2009 study, during the interviews with 12 third-year female medical students, many of them found themselves behaving in stereotypically ‘feminine’ ways and had gendered expectations when interacting with supervisors. Unfortunately, many of these cases of gender discrimination remain unreported as aspiring female physicians may be concerned with the possibility that these cases will affect their careers. In addition, many of them have …

The Importance of Having a Role Model/Mentor

“Why is she here, working with us boys? Shouldn’t she be somewhere else? How is she better than us?” As a woman working in a male-dominant field, I can’t help but think of the moments when I felt insecure about myself or watched other people whisper directly behind my back. It becomes even more difficult when there is no other woman in the environment that I am working for who has similar goals as I do. Fortunately, I found my role model when I was 14. Even though she did not have the same career aspirations as I did, her geeky personality and her infectious ambition resonated with me. Since then, I have shifted from worrying about what others think about me to making my dreams come true. Finding a role model that suits you certainly takes some patience and effort. Yet, the benefits of finding one are huge: It helps you stay grounded in your dreams and maybe even feel a lot less lonely along the way. I believe it is important for girls to find a …

Issues Surrounding Women’s Mental Health—The Facts

Mental health issues have been recognized as a common illness around the world, yet they still remain underdiagnosed. This issue brings to light the need to highlight these problems and to help women treat these disorders. Being mentally healthy is an essential part of our daily lives. But just how prevalent are women to having mental health disorders? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depressive disorders affect around 41.9% of neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% among men. Some of the most prevalent mental disorders among adults include depression, organic brain syndromes, and dementia, and women are part of the majority. In addition, lifetime prevalence of violence rates among women range from 16% to 50%, and at least 1 in every 5 women have suffered from rape or attempted rape in their lives. Although more doctors have attempted to identify patients with these disorders, many appear reluctant to seek professional help. In fact, according to the WHO, only 2 out of every 5 people with a mood, anxiety, or substance use disorder sought for …

Respecting Your Body: The Key to Attaining Self-Respect and Becoming Your Best Self

“How do you manage to stay so fit and still accomplish all of your goals on your own?” “I’m a vegetarian who does a lot of martial arts and cardio exercises every day, and I always make sure to touch base with myself at the end of the day.” Questioning looks. Silent glares. “Is that even humanly possible?” they whisper. Self-confidence and self-esteem are two of the most common issues that women and girls face. In order to help them reach their full potential, we need to address these issues. When I was 15, during lunchtime, my classmates would stare at my lunch filled with an array of different vegetables and fruits and ask whether I had eaten enough to fuel my body for the rest of the day. Even in college, whenever I chose not to eat meat, people would give me blank stares and whisper behind my back. What’s wrong with the choices that I have made for myself? Although many people are not vegetarians and are not committed to a rigorous exercise and sleep regimen …

The Nobel Prize: A Mostly-Men’s Club?

Since the 1970s, the number of women among Nobel Prize winners remains low. This issue brings to light the gender disparity surrounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields and the need for encouraging young women to pursue their scientific dreams. The Nobel Prize has long been recognized as the most prestigious award available in the fields of literature, medicine, chemistry, physics, peace and economics, and has been awarded to 874 laureates and 26 organizations between 1901 and 2015. Yet, out of these numbers, the prize has only been awarded to 49 women. What is keeping women from earning the recognition they deserve in these fields? According to Sharon Bertsch McGrayne, author of ” Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles and Momentous Discoveries,” “anti-nepotism laws in the U.S. actively prevented women from working at the same universities where their husbands worked until 1971.” In addition, according to Robert Marc Friedman, historian from the University of Oslo, “women faced barriers to entering higher education, especially at elite institutions that offered the resources to do the cutting-edge science …

Why We Still Need to Talk about Maternal Mortality, and What We Can Do to Prevent It

Although women are benefitting from massive healthcare improvements in pregnancy and childbirth in the last century, many of them still die from complications and not all women receive equal access to these healthcare opportunities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 830 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every day. At the end of 2015, about 303,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth. Most of these deaths happened in developing countries and could have been prevented. These shocking statistics reflect unequal access to healthcare services and highlight the gap between the rich and the poor. In fact, 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries and more than half of these deaths occur in humanitarian settings. In addition, for every 100,000 live births, the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 239 compared to 12 in developed countries. Moreover, the probability that a 15-year-old woman will die from a maternal cause is 1 in 4900 in developed countries compared to 1 in 180 in developing countries. Many of these women …

Women in Academic Medicine and Science: Trends and Advice on Moving Forward

Despite efforts to recruit more women in the sciences, a stark gender disparity still exists. Not only does this issue prevent academic centers from retaining a talented and diverse population that could help them enhance their mission, it hinders women from carrying out their full potential. 37 years ago, the U.S. Congress passed the Women in Science and Technology Opportunity Act, which “declares it the policy of the United States that men and women have equal opportunity in education, training and employment in scientific and technical fields.” Although major advances have been made to achieve this goal, academic institutions are still not fully using this talented population to enhance their mission. A 2012 study published by Moss-Racusin and collegues at Yale attempted to experimentally demonstrate whether there exists a gender bias against female students in academic medicine. By giving science faculty from academic centers application materials of a student applying for a laboratory manager position that was randomly assigned a male or female name, they discovered that male applicants were rated significantly more competent and …