Beyond gender stereotypes in medical labs

Much has been written this year about the need to move beyond gender stereotypes to improve women’s leadership and participation in various health and science fields. In this story for the Winter 2014 issue of the Canadian Journal of Medical Laboratory Science, I look at the other side of the coin and explore gender diversity issues for men in a profession that has historically been about 80 per cent women.

Thankfully, the ‘lab girls’ stereotype is fast disappearing as a significant number of men are entering the field. Success in the med lab profession today demands a host of complimentary skills that are not the exclusive domain of either gender and arguably never were. For example, we think of Florence Nightingale as the founder of nursing, “the Lady with the Lamp” who performed nightly rounds caring for wounded soldiers, but we should also remember her as the architect and first administrator of the modern hospital, for her revolutionary work in the areas of medical records, triage, infection control, epidemiology, hospital financial management and patient-centred care.

Studies show that encouraging and valuing diversity confers big benefits to organizations. Firms that have greater workforce diversity see an increase in ‘innovation intensity’ — a measure of the ratio of research and development expenses to assets. Workers become more diligent, harder working and more creative when they work with a wider range of perspectives.

I enjoyed interviewing two medical lab technologists at different stages in their career for this feature story. They both know that success in the field is not gender specific and that it depends on each individual’s personal commitment to lifelong professional development and hard work.

Click on the image to read the story and let me know what you think in the comments.

Gender Diversity Post

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