In undergraduate institutions, women are quickly outpacing men in admissions and graduations. However, being a female doctor can still be a significant challenge. Sexism can be pervasive in the medical profession, as Angela Gucwa found out as a young doctor. Many women doctors are tracked out of the most intensive and competitive fields, says Angela Gucwa, because they are assumed to want families, therefore making them unavailable for more round-the-clock roles. Female physicians call this being “mommy tracked,” according to Angela Gucwa. However, Angela Gucwa resisted this tracking and is preparing to complete her fellowship in a highly demanding field – vascular surgery.
Angela Gucwa encourages all young women doctors to reach out to their other female classmates for support and seek older women doctors as mentors. One formal way to do this is through the American Medical Women’s Association. Angela Gucwa was a member of the American Medical Women’s Association from 2002 to 2003 while she was acclimating to the intense competition of the medical school world. Working with this professional organization helped Angela Gucwa to gain confidence in herself as a female physician and empowered her to pursue surgery as a career.
There is surprisingly little formalized support for female doctors within other professional associations or at the regional level, says Angela Gucwa. Instead, she would like to see practicing female physicians encourage other young female doctors and helping them to pursue the fields that truly interest them, regardless of being tracked into motherhood or otherwise hindered by obligations.