I logged on to our Intranet this morning and saw a photo of a physician surrounded by three nurses with decades of experience. The caption referred to Dr. X and "the girls." They weren't even identified as nurses, much less given names. Their identities were stripped and they were demoted to children frolicking around the physician.
If any nurse is reading this who isn't disturbed, please think for a minute. If you still aren't, read Silence to Voice and let those worthy authors spell it out. Nurses cannot let this sort of outrageous insult pass without commentary.
So I wrote the following e-mail to our VP of nursing in hopes she'll open minds. Am I picking nits? No. This is a perfect example of where all nurses need to start raising awareness that we are not children or silly little nitwits who exist as nameless "girls" flitting around the main attraction---a physician. Letting things like this pass is why it still happens, say I. Here is what I said:
I'm concerned about the caption on the Intranet this morning. The photo features Dr. X and several mature nurses whom the caption refers to as "girls." This language is sexist, patronizing, and offensive, and I advocate that our hospital not fall prey to perpetuating outdated stereotypes of nurses. Our nurses are competent, proficient professionals: women and men, not girls and boys, which language suggests a certain puerile incompetence and conveys a history of intentional slights to keep us in our place as handmaidens to the doctor. This caption does not even credit "the girls" for being nurses at all. I hope that as our VP you too are committed to improving our profession's image and can provide gentle education for the creator of this caption. Thank you for your time, blah blah etc etc.
We all need to be seizing opportunities to educate and draw attention to things like this, which go unnoticed because "it's always been like that."