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Headed to Austin for the SIR meeting

March 17, 2019

The Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) meeting will be held in Austin, Texas next week. I will travel there to learn about the latest in my field from experts around the country. It’s a chance to network and see old friends too. There, I will meet with the Women in IR (WIR) Section, a group that was formalized in 2015.

WIR’s actions aim to support women in the field.

One of our most recent activities has been assembling an online toolkit to assist those who choose to have children, by pregnancy or adoption. The Pregnancy Toolkit is soon to be posted on the SIR website. It will cover topics ranging from practicing interventional radiology while pregnant, to logistics like obtaining disability insurance and taking parental leave. Mothers in the specialty will share personal accounts of how they did it. The resource will address frequently asked questions of students and trainees, who wonder whether being a mother in IR is possible.

During one of our working calls for the toolkit, the women on the line brainstormed ways to grab people’s attention, in order to promote the project at our annual meeting.

“How about, ‘SIR gets pregnant?” I cracked.  

It’s a funny coincidence that our society’s acronym coincides with a paucity of women in our specialty. Our society’s online discussion forum is dubbed “SIRweb.” It is like a subliminal message supporting the male nature of our specialty. Less than ten percent of practicing IRs are women. It’s one of the reasons I treasure time talking to these women whenever possible. We are somewhat rare.  

All of this “SIR” talk gets me thinking of the several times I’ve been called “sir” by accident at work, usually when giving direction. Is it because the majority of doctors are male? Are the slip-ups made because of the lower register I’ve learned to use to convey my authority, with the hopes of being taken seriously?

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Sometimes I’ve wondered:

How is my tone of voice? Powerful? Feminine? Masculine? Is my throat sore because I’ve been using a level below what would be comfortable or natural to me otherwise?

Is it strange that I take “sir” as a compliment? When I am accidentally addressed this way, I’m not insulted, because the default, and the perceived superior status, is male.

The daily/ weekly/ yearly question is: What is a natural way to comport myself which costs the least amount of excess energy, so I can be most effective in what matters today? Women who live on the edges of societal norms deal with this question all the time.

On that note, I hope to see you at this year’s SIR!

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