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Life Isn't Fair, But Government Should Be

By Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran

About a week ago, I saw a fantastic play called, “Ann”.  It details the life of Ann Richards, governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995.  The title of this blog is a famous quote of hers - which I’m pretty sure I’ve heard before - but didn’t know was attributed to Governor Richards.  If you have a chance to see the play you should. It's charming and thoughtful, which I bet are words I could have used to describe Governor Richards. 

But watching the play brought back to me a conversation I had with a friend of mine about the lack of women in public office.  Did you know that while women represent over half of our population, they make up 16% of the Senate and 16.6% of the House?   Being a physician, I wondered if there was a similar disparity among physicians in office.   Off the top of my head, I couldn’t think of any female physicians in elected office, so I did a little research.  Turns out there are two female physician representatives in the House:  Rep.  Donna Christensen (D-DL) (Emergency Medicine) and Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) (Ophthalmology).   Of the twenty physicians in office, 2 are women.  This is despite the fact that women represent 32% of practicing physicians. 

While I have no question that men are capable of representing the interests of women,  I also think that women are no less capable of representing the interests of other members of their society.  And that just as men bring a unique perspective because they are men, women bring a unique and equally important perspective because they are women.   I’m also certain we miss out on some great leaders because there aren’t more women in office.  Which brings me back to the title of this blog, while life isn’t always fair or just, we should make an effort to be sure our physician leadership is a fair representation of who we are as a profession.  

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