The medical community seems pretty awful lately

It's easy enough to be pissed at the healthcare industry for all the bull████ surrounding insurance, malpractice defensiveness, failure to inform their patients, unnecessary testing and price gouging.  But in the past couple days, I've seen stories that seem to suggest they're going out of their way to avoid coming off sympathetically even in the area of human decency.

Gender pay differences

According to Medical News Today, a new study published in the Jounral of the American Medical Association[1. This week in jama. JAMA. 2012;307(22):2345-2345.  doi:10.1001/jama.2012.3033.] reveals that there are still statistically substantial differences in wage between men and women in the medical field, "even after adjusting for differences in specialty, institutional characteristics, academic productivity, academic rank, work hours, and other factors."

Women practicing medicine at academic institutions make on average $12 thousand less than their male counterparts, end up in lower paying specialties, get fewer leadership roles and fewer publications.

The article offers some rationalizations, though:

Ultimately, it seems grossly unfair that a women doing the exact same job as a man should earn less pay. On the other hand, due to the nature of the different genders, there will always be women in the workforce who are less driven to push for promotions or take on leadership roles, or extra responsibilities and there might be a wide variety of reasons for this.

Oh.  Right.  Because women just don't try as hard, that explains why they make less money.  This pisses me off for the following reasons:

  • Women may not push as hard as men for leadership roles or extra hours, but that has a lot to do with the fact that women are systemically encouraged to be less aggressive and imposing.
  • "[...] due to the nature of the different genders, [...]".  Gender is a cultural construct.  It's not an unalterable quality of everyone of a particular sex.
  • "[...] there will always be women in the workforce who are less driven [...]" Seriously?  Always?  The justification for unequal circumstances is that those circumstances will always exist?  See points 1 and 2 -- it sounds like the argument here is, 'We don't plan on fighting sexism, so we might as well resign ourselves to the fact that it's not going away.'

Racism at UCLA

(via Laci Green on Tumblr)

So it turns out that UCLA, one of those medical institutions, has a major problem with racism.  The thrust of this story centers around the disgraceful treatment of Dr. Christian Head, a tenured surgeon who has filed a racial discrimination suit against the institution after it became clear that the administration had no intention of doing anything about the sustained, overt racial discrimination he faced.


Not only was Dr. Christian Head’s face superimposed onto the body of a gorilla standing on all-fours, but the photo also depicted him being sodomized by his Caucasian supervisor. This, unfortunately, was just one of a series of racially motivated incidents that Dr. Head has had to deal with over the past several years at UCLA. His complaints to administrative leaders at the Medical Center, the University and UC Regents have gone unanswered. In fact, his complaints have spurred additional acts of humiliation, attempts to push him out of academic medicine and retaliation.

But Dr. Head's case is just one example of what is clearly a systemic problem of racism at UCLA.  Here's the video about the case: