I recently received a copy of an article written in 2007 by Molly Carnes, MD and Judyann Bigby, MD.   One of the obstacles to the advancement of women in academic medicine is discussed in terms of the Jennifers vs the Janets.   Jennifers refer to the younger women who are just coming out of medical school, who may be junior faculty and are starting their careers with great optimism.   Janets are the women who graduated in the 1980s and are at the pinnacles of their careers--experienced, competent, and who have earned the competence for leadership positions.    At first, this sounded like a "cutesy" approach but if you consider that Jennifer is a very popular, hip name today, and Janet a more old-fashioned term, the irony works.

To give you some background on this issue, please look at the earlier blog from a few days ago, Sex, Science and Success.

In the Carnes-Bigby article, the authors discuss how men in academic medicine (referred to as Daves), always refer to the younger generation when  talking about how far we have come in advancing women in medicine.  The Jennifers seem to be pleased with this picture as they look forward to a rosy future.  Rarely, do the Daves  talk about the women who are at the peak of their careers but are overlooked for promotions (often given to other Daves).  Instead, the 'seasoned' women are appointed to committees and task forces that do little for their personal career trajectory.   Perhaps there is an underlining threat to Daves in putting well qualified women into leadership positions.  Hmmmm.   Kind of reminds me of "trophy" wives (if you are old enough to know that term!)

It's an interesting premise and the article by Carnes and Bigby is provocative.


In the UK there are more women medical students than men now - and loads of optimistic Jennifers who will tip the profession in their direction - as they will too in law. Unfortunately it is taking a generation (or three - I had a great aunt who qualified as a doctor in the 1930's)to redress the balance.

I definitely think woman are able, but I think that women often times have other priorities. I think there are two side to the story. A good looking woman will often times get hired over a good looking man. There are a lot of perspectives to look at for sure. Hiring is very subjective and there's always going to be issues.

i guess you don't welcome any opposing views here. I posted a comment a few weeks ago about how I was not surprised by this. We live in a chauvinistic society and women are paid less than men for the same job. I am not saying it's fair in fact it's sad but it is the world we live in. thus the saying the good old boy network!

I am a female pharmacist. All throughout my schooling I had to deal with stereotypes and now that I own my own business I see less of the stereotyping and garner more respect. I think that as women continue to accomplish more(as we have always done ;) we will continues to see the balance shift

It has been a problem since the dawn of time - power and gender imbalance. Best idea is to beat them at thier own game, and deliver outstanding quality in reseach and commercial application

I liked your thoughts on the original post. I think that this style of thinking can be mirrored in any field not just the medical profession. When I was in fortune 500 I saw this kind of thing all the time in technology where women had advanced. Even women that were very well educated were less clear on what they wanted in their salary and that, than the men. So they would usually make 20-30 % less than the men. They also would not push for more money because they didn't want to be seen as bitchy or hard to work with.

I think that a lot of the reason women are falling behind men in science has to do with the stereotypical roles that men and women are put into. Men are expected by society to be in science and women are expected to be more geared towards the humanities. Some of this is wearing off in society, but I think a lot of it still exists.

Valid comments, I've observed this during my career. Will definitely try to avoid in my practice.

I agree with the comment posted by Harrison Barnes, a lot of this stuff is wearing off in society. Great article by the way!

"stereotypical roles" too sad, but true. Being a woman I have instantly - and unfairly - been automatically assumed and judged to be 'less than a man' in many occurrences. I once had a man ask me how many 'acres' my BF had when invited over to the home I shared with my BF. I was very pleased to see his 'shock' when I replied to him "None... I own this place"...another time I had a dealer at a car lot REFUSE to talk to me, stating I should come back when I could bring my 'husband' with me. Number one, I was NOT married, and, number two, I could have purchased outright (and paid in cash for) any car on his lot. (I went to another dealership and bought a new SUV that very day.) Women have worked hard to get where they are and 'titles' or 'labels' should be left for books and canned goods. Assumptions should be, too. Sorry for the hijack :(

Having family members in the medical profession I have seen this played out on more than one occasion. I do think the Janets get passed over for promotions more often than we think. It will be interesting to see where the Jennifers end up 20+ years into the future.

Very interesting article. Unfortunate as it may be, it is true. It is just a matter of time though, before this will be minimized or eliminated. Women are breaking the glass ceiling and if you look at the number of women versus men at universities...this is an indication of what is to come.

It still amazes me that in this is still an issue. As a man, I tend to think along a certain set of lines that were probably drawn from my experiences growing up as a male. Females on the other hand grow up basically in a different idea of the world than men giving them valuable perspectives and lines of sight that a man generally wouldn't have. By not treating both sexes equally and possibly discouraging women (by making them feel less than their male counterparts) I fear that we may all pay the price in terms of lost advancements in our society in general. It's never good to get most of what you know from mostly one perspective. In the end we all pay the price.

You would think that this would be an issue of the past and that we now live in a society of equality regardless for race, gender, and religion. We just gotta keep fighting and prove ourselves and hopefully our kids will see a better future when they turn older.

Recent research in the UK indicates that women will not receive equal pay until 2067. So although there has been a lot of progress, it seems there is still a long way to go.

In the auto industry is similar. The few women there are in middle or high management level have comparatively low salary paid. Although just women in management have many good ideas and deal with problems differently than men.

I hate to say that I agree - reason being is that I thought that by 2011 women would be proved wrong and we would be treated as equals but we are not. Yes things are improving but why should it be so hard to expect to be treated as an equal either at work or home life. Everything which has been discussed is true and I hope that in the not too distant future women young and old we get the respect they deserve.

Completely agree. The Auto Industry, especially automotive retail sales is dominated by men. As a woman, walking into a dealer auction and feels like you're an alien that just landed on Earth from another galaxy. Same with sales. Customers tend to prefer asking questions to my husband even though I know more about the vehicle. Times are changing at least in the small business world.

"I definitely think woman are able, but I think that women often times have other priorities. I think there are two side to the story. A good looking woman will often times get hired over a good looking man. There are a lot of perspectives to look at for sure. Hiring is very subjective and there’s always going to be issues." This is the 21st. century! Fred.

Completely agree. The Auto Industry, especially automotive retail sales is dominated by men.

I'm not convinced that women are universally restricted in their quest to reach higher levels of achievement. Case in point, most nurses and nurse administration are women as are as are ultrasound technicians. Both of which are quite well paid professions.

I find this post really informative and an eye opener to me and my fellows... I really shocked to hear the imbalance in gender.. Heads off to you as your trying to make a step ahead in this direction.. Good Luck..

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.