This post is dedicated to Number One Son and his roommate Zack.
For some time now, the number of women entering the health professions has been on the rise. Most entering classes in schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, etc have been comprised of around 50% women for several years.
The latest indications are that women are starting to grab a slight majority of entering slots. At the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Optometry, women are really starting to rule the roost. A source there informed me recently that the 2008 entering class will be comprised of 80% women.
From the looks of the candidates who sat for my section of the National Board of Optometry Exam this past weekend in Birmingham, that 4:1 female to male ratio is already in effect. Of the twelve candidates whom I personally examined, ten were women. With the exception of one, all of them passed my section with flying colors. The two men that I evaluated did okay, but in general were less smooth and more nervous when they examined their practice patients.
They also sweated a lot more. Note to male doctors out there: wear more deodorant and don’t forget your breath mints.
Generalities from a small sample are always dangerous, but I think what I saw this past weekend may be a sign of things to come. Women are of course perfectly capable of becoming fine doctors (and have for years). They’ve learned that to get ahead in health care and other professions that they must do it “cleaner and better” than the guy standing across from them.
As a result, their undergraduate and professional school GPAs generally are higher and their performance on entry level tests such as the National Board of Optometry Exam a step above their male counterparts. At least that’s been my observation over the past few years as both an examiner for the National Board and an adjunct associate professor at UAB.
So, is this a bad thing? Well, for the profession, the patients and the women who are enjoying the rewards of healing others and getting paid well to do it–hardly.
If you’re a skinny white guy? Maybe.
But if you’re a pale male, before you cry foul, maybe you ought to consider not only using more deodorant and breath mints, but laying off the video games too.
Don’t look now skinny white guys, but suddenly you’re the ones who must do it “cleaner and better.” Saving the world from aliens in Halo and nailing a riff on Guitar Hero are all well and good, but those particular skills aren’t going to get you past me on National Board day.