Lily Henson, MD, MMM, FAAN

Chief Medical Officer, Piedmont Henry Hospital
Stockbridge, GA

Countering Identity Backlash

As a first generation Chinese American, I was taught to not bring attention to myself, and not to expect to get what I want. Early on in my career as a young physician, I found myself irritated that my nurse would do things for my male partner that she would not do for me. I learned to be more assertive and to demand equal treatment. There are derogatory terms frequently used to describe women who do that, and I have heard many of them used on me. As I have matured and developed more confidence in myself, I have learned to ignore the hurt associated with hearing those terms used. I have found that not allowing detractors to see that they have affected me is the most effective way of dealing with that. And fortunately times have changed, and with more women in higher levels of management, that is occurring less often. I have also learned to finesse what I have to say, so that the net effect of what others hear may not be perceived as being too aggressive or outlandish.