This morning I had the opportunity to speak about radiation oncology before a group of high school girls in a program called BeWISE, which stands for Be a Woman In Science and Engineering. The organizer of this morning’s seminar had purposely chosen an all- woman faculty, so that the students would get an opportunity to mingle with and question those of us who had chosen the pathways of scientific research and medicine. During a break in the program, these two conversations were overheard.
From an accomplished female radiologist who is married to one of the country’s greatest gastrointestinal cancer surgeons—“I was picking up my husband downtown at a conference with the kids in the car and as my husband hopped in, another speaker at the conference leaned into the car window and asked my daughter if she wanted to be just like her dad when she grew up. She said, “No, he’s just a SURGEON! I want to be a Doctor, like Mommy”.”
From a female gynecologic cancer surgeon, also married to a physician—“I took my daughter to work on Take Your Daughter To Work Day. We were in the OR, all scrubbed and ready to go, and my scrub nurse said, “Do you want to be a doctor like your Mommy or like your Daddy.” She said, “I want to be a MOMMY, like my Mommy.”
Whether we identify our busy lives with respect to our children as “benign neglect,” or whether we prefer to think of ourselves as allowing—no– EXPECTING our children to “step up” and take more responsibility for their schoolwork, their pets, their siblings and the household chores, we must be doing something right, ladies!