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Harleena K. Kendhari, M.D., FAAP, has faced her fair share of inequities as a woman, but those experiences weren’t what prompted her to get involved in gender equity work.
Instead, she wanted to give every woman in medicine access to strong, powerful and successful women who would support them — just like she had.
“I honestly had incredible women surrounding me as friends and mentors, who have done an amazing job in pushing me and recognizing and nurturing my strengths and helping me work through my weaknesses. And I know not everyone has that same experience,” said Dr. Kendhari, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and pediatric hospital medicine fellowship director at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria and lead hospitalist at Children’s Hospital of Illinois/OSF St. Francis Medical Center.
Among her efforts to dismantle gender inequities in medicine is co-chairing the AAP Section on Hospital Medicine’s Women in Pediatric Hospital Medicine (PHM) Subcommittee.
She also will lead an interactive workshop titled “Building a Community Bridge for Gender Inequities in Medicine” with Juliann Lipps Kim, M.D., FAAP, who also co-chairs the PHM Subcommittee. The session will be held from 4-5:30 p.m. PDT Sunday, Oct. 9 (I3643) in room 207CD of the convention center and from 2-3:30 p.m. PDT Monday, Oct. 10 (I4441) in room 206.
They will begin by sharing data about the state of women in pediatrics and describing how gender bias presents in medicine. Female physicians, for example, may be addressed by their first name, while their male colleagues are called “doctor.” Or there may be lack of transparency about salaries and compensation, which decreases lifetime earnings.
“If you're not aware of gender bias and how it impacts you, it's really hard to move the field forward,” said Dr. Kim, department chair, pediatric hospitalists, Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and adjunct clinical associate professor of pediatrics at Stanford University.
Dr. Kim and Dr. Kendhari will challenge assumptions like gender bias doesn’t exist in pediatrics since women make up more than 64% of pediatricians, and women can’t be biased against other women.
Attendees also will hear stories from a panel of women in medicine and break into groups to discuss their own experiences.
“Especially after these very difficult past two-and-a-half years, we want to give people the opportunity to talk and connect in person,” Dr. Kim said. “We all have our own unique challenges whether it’s managing our home, our careers, caring for sick parents, etc. Hearing that you are not alone in your struggles is very powerful.”
Finally, attendees will brainstorm solutions and strategies they can use to combat inequities.
“It’s important to focus on changing the system — not fixing the woman,” Dr. Kim said.
Added Dr. Kendhari: “It is figuring out how to make the system equitable for everybody who works within it.”
So can men attend the session?
“Yes, we absolutely want men to come and participate in the discussion and be part of the solution,” Dr. Kendhari said.