I talk about my kids. A lot. I mentioned them in my residency application, during my interviews, and share anecdotes at work with my attendings who have kids the same age. We share pictures, school recommendations, fun Sunday activities, etc. All the attendings with kids, however, are men. My residency program, in a field with a growing feminine presence, is amazingly family friendly, with at least 3 other dads/residents and 1 other mom. It's a fun, sharing atmosphere.
Until it's not. While casually discussing the possibility of becoming chief resident next year (it's not a dedicated year- you still have the same clinical responsibilities just with extra admin ones as well) one of the attendings, who has a direct role in decision making for the residency, made an off-hand comment along the lines of "well, you are busy enough, you probably wouldn't want to have anything extra." When I approached him privately after and let him know that I was, in fact, interested and hoped to be considered for chief, he was welcoming and supportive. But the off-hand comment made me think.
Are the biases and expectations and assumptions about what a mothers' role fair game for deciding promotions, responsibilities, career trajectory? Who gets to decide how busy, or not, I want to be, or am? Do I now have to "tone down the mom factor" and work extra hard, just to be considered for the same position as someone without children? Other residents talk about dating, drinking, their dogs, other parts of their outside lives. Do kids not count as an approved extra-curricular activity?
The most frustrating part for me, is that I'll never know. There are a few other amazing residents hoping for the position. If I don't get chosen for the responsibility, will it be because the admin thought the others were better for the job? It's a completely realistic possibility. But what if it's because I have kids and they have assumptions on what I can/want/will handle? Part of me wants to eliminate the possibility of that frustration and uncertainty by denying any interest in the position and just letting it go. But I have decided I am just going to work harder, smarter, work on being a team player, and keep at it. And maybe share stories a little less.
Have you been in a position where your home life was questioned? Your choices judged? Your responsibilities and commitment challenged?