If there’s one thing I like about my industry is that the issue of gender hardly comes up. Sure, there was this disastrous “IT pageant” some people tried to organize a few years ago, but then the outraged reactions to it only serve to reinforce my point. I’ve never been referred to as a “lady programmer” or “lady IT consultant”. If anyone were ever called that, our first reaction would probably be “Weird, I’ve never heard of the Lady programming language”.
So what’s with the “lady dentists”? And “lady doctors”? The odd thing is that it’s what they seem to be calling themselves. They’re on the signs at clinics and offices, meaning these doctors and dentists had them put up themselves. Then there was this news item about how during one of the recent typhoons, a gentleman security guard saved a woman from a parking lot which was flooding, and the news item kept referring to her as a “lady doctor”. Oh, no, wait, it was just a security guard — apparently we don’t attach “gentleman” to occupational titles.
Maybe I’m just an ignorant techie here. Maybe the idea of women in the medical profession is something so rare and special that it’s important to note that these people got their degrees and practiced their profession despite — gasp! — not having a penis. Maybe it’s important to let potential patients know that these are “lady dentists”, in case they need to have a dental procedure that can only be done with boobs.
Or maybe we still just haven’t gotten over the fact that women can do the same things that men can. That our biological plumbing doesn’t have anything to do with our jobs. Sure, I can understand that when it comes to medical care, some people do have a gender preference. For instance, some women would prefer female OBGYNs. But when we label doctors as either female or not, we are basically making a person’s sex a qualification, like a PhD or a diploma from a certain university. And it’s not. A person’s sex is something that’s pretty much determined before that person is born. It’s not something he or she studied for, or spent hours practicing and perfecting.
And while we’re at it, enough with those “preferably male” descriptions in job ads. Unless it’s an ad for a dildo model, you’re just discriminating against qualified women. You might as well include in the job ad “Our company is run by misogynistic pricks.”
A while back, I came across a job ad for a web programmer, “preferably gay”. I’m not kidding. The theory a friend of mine came up with was that it was for a gay porn website. But that’s another story for another blog post.
Tania writes about stuff over at The Entropy Blog.