E52 Surgical Companion 2 – RBG

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Chad Ball  00:14

We’d like to welcome you to the second edition of the surgical companion series on Cold Steel. As you know, this group of podcasts is meant to be a more conversational format that discusses current events and recent publications in a novel and interesting manner. Our standing members of the companion are Ameer Farooq, Kelly Vogt, Morad Hameed and myself. Today we also have the pleasure of welcoming back a friend of the podcast, Rebecca Auer. Our discussion surrounds the superb documentary simply entitled, RBG. We hope our comments stimulate respectful and thoughtful conversation across the country.

Kelly Vogt  00:50

So thanks for joining us, everybody. Today we’re going to be talking about RBG the documentary and really mostly about what RBG has done for the world and how that intersects with the world of surgery. So just a brief intro to start. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, and she died just this past September. She was a tremendous woman who lived an incredible life both before and after her nomination to the Supreme Court. She grew up in Brooklyn with her mother, Celia, who she often credited to much of her success. She was married to Marty Ginsburg, they had two kids, Jane and James. And Jane was actually born before she started Law School, which is a very interesting story in and of itself. When you watch the documentary, it’s tremendously interesting to talk about her time, both at Harvard Law School, and finishing law school at Columbia. She had a tremendous career fighting for civil rights, and most notably for women’s rights, both in and out of the courtroom. In 1993, she was appointed Supreme Court Justice, and she remained on the Supreme Court until her death. A few notable things about that, and they really explored this in the documentary, she was best friends on the bench with Justice Antonin Scalia, who I think is most interesting for being her diametrical opposite in ideology and interpretation of the law. In 2013, she really became a pop media icon, which is an interesting story as well. At least in part, because of her multiple dissents and the way in which she went about them. She had a blog written about her at that time, which really started her social media and iconic presence in the world. And really, arguably, she became much more famous for her dissents than her majority opinions. She was one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 most powerful people for eight years straight. From a medical perspective, she survived colon cancer, but ultimately died of pancreatic cancer earlier this year. We could spend hours talking about her life and what she did not only for Americans, but for the whole world. But we want to focus our conversation today a bit on the intersection between who RBG was and what she did, and our world of surgery. And so we have great guests to talk here today. And I think we should start kind of at the beginning with some of her training. There’s a great story that is in the documentary. And it’s widely reported that in her early years at Harvard, the Dean had all the female law students over to his house for dinner and asked them to explain why they were at the school taking the place of a male. The intent behind this question varies depending on who’s telling the story with most who know this Dean, explaining that he was a Dean who first allowed females to enter the school, but that he had to justify their presence to the board. Nonetheless, it reminds me of an experience I had on the CaRMS tour interviewing for surgical residency that, to the credit of my medical school may have actually been the first time I was truly aware of a potential gender divide in surgery. I was sitting in an interview with two males and the elder one after realizing I did medical school at Western asked me, and I think in all seriousness, “Wouldn’t Angus MacLaughlin, who was a prominent surgical mentor at Western long before my time, be rolling around in his grave knowing that a female was applying to general surgery?” I’ve thought about that moment so many times since and I think in a lot of ways, it was similar to what RBG experienced. Tell me why you deserve this spot. Why as a woman do you have a place in this male dominated world? We asked that question of our potential trainees all the time, but not in a way that so overtly references their gender. And so I thought we could start by asking those of you joining us today. Tell me a little bit about what you see, or how you see what RBG has done in our surgical community now. And maybe we’ll start with you, Chad.

Chad Ball  05:04

I agree with your comments before we started, there’s so much you could talk about with with regard to her and obviously how far she’s come. The documentary to me is fascinating. Just to consider some of these large milestones that she helped shape over the course of her career and really as I was mentioning, I watched that documentary a second time with my three kids. So a 12 year old girl, a 10 year old boy, and an eight year old girl. And their confusion with a lot of what was being said, and what used to exist in terms of challenges, and what still exist I’m sure, but the historical component of it was shocking to them. I think we talked for about three hours after. And it was remarkable. So, you know, that’s an indirect answer your question, but I think the impact that she’s had is almost immeasurable, whether you’re talking about medicine, surgery, or just life in general.

Kelly Vogt  06:04

It’s interesting that you say that, because as I was watching, I thought multiple times to myself, how privileged I am to be a woman existing today, following in the path that she paved. Rebecca, what do you think? Did you have similar thoughts or different ones?

Rebecca Auer  06:22

Yeah, I think I was definitely struck by how overt, you know, many of the examples that were brought up. You can’t have the same pay cuz you’re a woman, like just as blunt and overt as that. And in some ways, of course, you know, not being around at that time. I can’t imagine what that would be like, but in some ways, it’s almost easier to fight against that. I guess what I kind of took from it a little bit was, I do still think there’s gender inequalities. I do still think there’s “sexism” in our profession and many others, but it’s much more insidious. And because it isn’t so overt and so maimed, I sometimes feel like if I bring it up as a gender issue, all of a sudden, I’m the problem, because I’ve called it a gender issue, but nobody else has. Even though it’s unquestionable that the reason I’m being treated that way, must be because I’m a woman. But because no one’s said it, and I’ve brought it up, then it’s my problem, not society’s. And that’s one thing that’s very different.

Kelly Vogt  07:39

That’s a tremendously interesting point. Ameer is the youngest one of us here. What do you see in terms of those less overt gender issues, or I think sometimes called micro aggressions?

Ameer Farooq  07:55

I struggle a lot with how to kind of think about that, you know. I think when you watch the documentary, it really makes you sit there and think about sort of the way that the US as a microcosm is sort of a little example for the world in terms of the way that we think now about the rights of human beings, both gender, but also on race and many other issues. And, you know, in some ways, you look at what RBG did, and you’re like, that is just phenomenal that one woman could lead such an amazing amount of change, and has overcome so much. But yet, in some ways, I feel like, I echo some of what Dr. Auer is saying, in that it’s gone under the ground. And in some ways, it’s harder to recognize, and we still find ourselves dealing, grappling with those issues, you know, in 2020. You know, the Black Lives Matter movement, for example, is, again, tangential to this, but I think, again, emblematic of the fact that, you know, the work is not done. And for us to just sort of think, well, you know, because a couple of laws, because these laws have been passed, now overtly that can’t be done that these things are not happening. I think it’s just a bit fanciful. But, you know, to me, one of the things that my wife and I watched and one of the things that struck me about watching RBG is just, by all accounts, she was extremely introspective, or I should say, introverted kind of person. Not one to sort of make a name for herself. But suddenly she would come out in court and like her quotes in the documentary in terms of what she said in court, were just phenomenal. And it’s just so courageous and to me, more than anything, I was inspired by her courage and her clear dedication. I mean, the stories about her staying up, you know, taking care of her children, taking care of her sick husband, going up till two in the morning and then starting again. Just inspirational. But I’d echo what Dr Auer is saying – that many of those issues that she’s she worked and struggled against. Those are not issues that are dealt with and sorted.

Chad Ball  10:09

Rebecca, I think your comment is a good one. We’ve also heard, to piggyback on Ameer’s thoughts, a lot of the same commentary and concern with a cult inequity beyond the male, female or the gender issue and well into the racial issue as well. And you know, whether it’s Dave Chappelle, most notably, and eloquently, but certainly many, many others have made the same comment that you’ve made, which is that it’s a lot easier potentially to deal with a fight when it’s out in the open than when it’s not. It’s hard to quantify and it’s hard to address.

Kelly Vogt  10:47

I think that’s a really good point. And I wonder, you know, looking into RBG a bit more, I find one of the most interesting things about her is actually some of the notable things that she said about things moving too quickly. So for example, I’m not sure if it’s actually in the documentary or in another source. But with respect to Roe v. Wade, she famously came out and said she agreed with the decision. But she felt like maybe the steps should have been a bit smaller. And in other areas, she had said similar things that she was really about sort of methodically tackling one part of the problem at a time, which not being a lawyer myself, seems like something that kind of fits with the profession of law. I wonder what you guys think about the concept of dealing with some of those less overt, smaller, one step at a time, take the things that you see happening. And I’m going to come back to you, Rebecca, because you brought it up first to start, but it would be good to have everybody’s opinion.

Rebecca Auer  12:01

Yeah, I mean, I think that point makes a lot of sense in a way that, you know, if you have a huge change, but the culture hasn’t changed along with it, then there’s potential for increased tension and almost increased, maybe potentially resentment. Towards, whether it’s a minority or a visible minority or whether it’s a female. So I think that I can see that. On the other hand, you know, I wouldn’t want to stop progress, because we aren’t quite ready for that change. So I don’t know what the right balance of that is. I certainly see that at least in surgery, such a dramatic change in my career. And that may be partly where I trained and where I now work. But you know, when I was a resident, I was one of two female residents in a program of about 25 people with no general surgery female attendings, and I was the first female attending in general surgery and the first woman in the department. The second woman in the department to have a baby. So there were some, you know, significant cultural changes there. But I think that once that sort of happened, then we had many other new female recruits, and our program is very balanced in terms of gender. And that’s a very positive change, I think. Well, I know it’s a positive change.

Kelly Vogt  13:47

Yeah. It’s incredible the amount of female trainees that have come through and come up, even in the last 20 years. Chad, were there any females in your residency class?

Chad Ball  14:01

Yeah, you bet. There certainly was, you know, maybe my experience was similar or different, I’m not sure. But I really had the benefit very early of really strong female leadership examples. Coming to Calgary in 2001 as a resident, and I think 97 was the first time I saw her as a medical student. Janice Persico was here who you guys know we’ve had on the podcast, and my understanding is that she’s still, and remains the youngest section head in the history of this country. And you can see why she got that role. I mean, for everything people say or don’t say about her. She is an incredible leader. She’s organized. She’s a wonderful example. And then, at the other end of my training, I ended up in a fellowship in the US with Grace Riziki, who again, we’ve also had on the podcast and another tremendous example of leadership and equity in every way you could ever define it. I think maybe part of that question that you’re asking Kelly is about methodology? In other words, how do individuals prompt, promote, and ensure durable change over time for the better? And I don’t know, you know, I’ve tried to put a lot of thought into it. The methodology that you see with RBG is, as you pointed out, is linear, sequential, quiet, for the most part, well thought out. And then there’s the opposite of that spectrum. Especially in 2020, with social media intensity. And I’m not sure where the best route lies, it’s probably not for me to make that kind of comment. But we probably need a range of voices. We probably need people to speak in a way that they’re best able to affect change. But I do agree with you that her methodology, although maybe it’s considered old school, by today’s standards, is probably what allows her to reach across the aisle to her best friend, as you mentioned, who’s on the farthest right, that you possibly could be from her left. And have her be well received. And considered thoughtful as opposed to not so thoughtful. So yeah, I don’t know. The methodology is interesting to consider, though, for sure.

Rebecca Auer  16:35

One comment I would want to make is that one of the statements she made in the documentary, which I really hold on to and loved was, she said, you know, she was raised to always be a lady. And then she kind of explains a lady as someone who, you know, doesn’t let emotions govern their actions and thinks logically and with respect for others. And I think she sort of goes on to define it. But, you know, it’s such a funny contrast, because, of course, if someone told me to behave like a lady, and I know certainly my parents said things like that when I was little, and that would be very off putting now. And yet what she meant is you have to…and this obviously was her approach…you have to meet people on their level with respect and openness to listen to their points of view. But then through rational discourse and arguments rather than emotion, try and make the case. And that’s certainly exactly what she did. I just thought it’s kind of funny that she defined that as being a lady.

Kelly Vogt  17:46

I loved that too. And that was literally the next thing I was gonna say. So you’re reading my mind. And I think it’s incredible that you know, and to take it one step further, her comments about not raising your voice. And that being the way to win an argument and to get people on your side. I don’t know if it was ahead of her time, but it certainly I think resonates with me as something that is a very meaningful way to move your agenda or a larger agenda forward. I wonder, when I think about some other prominent female leaders, I see that a lot. And this idea that a feminist is someone who isn’t lady-like, I think probably isn’t accurate in all of the icons that we see. I don’t know if anybody else has other women they want to compare to or ideas that they see in that same vein. You brought up too in surgery, being Dr. Persica and Dr. Riziki, are there others? I think of Beyonce in that particular vein. Open it up to anybody else to share.

Chad Ball  18:53

You know what’s amazing, and I maybe make these comments at my own peril. But you know, I throw Barbara Streisand in there. And she comes to mind because she was recently on a super podcast through New York City Public Radio that Alec Baldwin hosts called “Here’s the Thing”. And she was talking about her experience with making the movie of Yentl. And I sort of think of her as an elegant, artistic, obviously incredibly talented, very thoughtful, but somewhat eccentric individual. And she talked about making that movie in England, which I think went on to win the academy award for Best Picture, but I could be wrong. And she talked about making movies in England versus making them in America, and how much better and easier and just more amazing the experience was in England. Because they treated her as a woman director with all the respect and equality in the world to men. And so Baldwin asked her, why does she think that was and she said, “well, England has this incredible history, obviously of strong women”. She’s like “start with the Queen, move on to Margaret Thatcher”. And she went through this wonderful list. Isn’t that interesting. And then she said after that movie was filmed, sorry or shot, it came out and got all this obviously incredible rave review. She won an award, a Women in Film Award back in America. And she said, she spent the majority of her… which I’ve since looked up and watched… the majority of her acceptance speech, talking about the friction that as a woman, she not only received from men in her business within America, but also in particular from women colleagues and other women in Hollywood, in general. Sort of a negative spin on it, and how from her point of view that had to stop and we should be promoting each other and helping each other like they do in England. And I sort of just thought, number one, she kind of leads and she’s very interesting in sort of that RBG style. But the story in particular, I thought was applicable and made me think back to the RBG documentary as well.

Ameer Farooq  21:03

So one thing I wanted to actually ask both Dr. Auer, and Dr. Vogt is something that I’ve often struggled with, and is related to what Dr. Ball was just bringing up about Barbra Streisand. And this is the whole idea of how you think about yourself in terms of when  things don’t go well for you. And perhaps, for example, it is because you know, your skin’s a different color, or you have a different chromosome than your colleagues and when things don’t go well. You know, one of the things that someone told me when I was growing up is that if you start thinking of yourself, as “what happened to me” or any failures in your life is because people are being racist, for example, that’s a very dangerous slope to go down. And then you sort of develop this victim mentality. And while it’s very important to think about, you know, on a societal level, or at a policy level or at a community or an institutional level. It’s very important to think about how people are being marginalized or not being treated fairly, but when it comes to your individual success or failures, you really have to try and just be the best that you can be. And not think about those other factors that might be impacting you. And I I’ve struggled with that thought and you know, when you hear Barbra Streisand talking about wanting to be accepted, not because she was a quote, unquote, female director, but because she was just a good director, I think that’s sort of on a similar sort of vein. So I’m curious, Dr. Auer, you know, you were one of two female residents in your program. How did you deal with that thought that maybe I’m being treated differently because I’m a woman? Do you think that’s not a big deal? And you should just recognize it as it is and deal with it? How did you sort of navigate that thought or that problem when it came up?

Rebecca Auer  23:11

Yeah, it’s interesting, because I didn’t feel as much of a gender issue, even as a resident, as I have, particularly as a new attending staff. I’m not new anymore, but I’m talking about when I was new. That’s where I felt the biggest sort of element of gender, I don’t know if you want to call it discrimination, but I was treated a bit differently. I think, as a resident, you know, I certainly noticed that I was. I mean, all anyone had to say was the surgical resident came by, and it was a woman and everyone knew who it was. Because there were so few. So I think that it was obvious that I was, you know, not the same as my peers. But I certainly found my peers were quite accepting. And I mean, I worked very hard, and we all did. But I would be the first person to take someone’s call. And I certainly went the extra mile for my resident colleagues. And I don’t think because I was a woman. I think that was an important thing for me. I had really good co-residents. So for me, that wasn’t as much of an issue. I noticed it most…and I’ll be interested to hear what Kelly has to say…when I became an attending and the only female attending in the division. And there were very obvious times where again, it was, I would say obvious but a little bit insidious too. For example, just as an anecdote, I was operating all night on call on covering the ACS service, and then the following morning, booked an appendix at 8 am, and the anesthesiologist refused to put the patient to sleep. Because I’d been up all night and I would be too tired to do an appendix. And in the history of the Division of General Surgery at the Ottawa Hospital, I had never known that to happen to anybody else. And it’s hard for me to believe that it had nothing to do with my gender, or that I looked young, for example. And, you know, I had to call the Chief of Surgery. And the Chief of Surgery had to call the Chief of Anesthesia in order to allow the case to go ahead. And so a little bit what I mean by that being insidious: I brought up gender in that case, because it was clear to me that was what was going on. But then all of a sudden, I’m making it about gender. But if it wasn’t about gender, what was it about? And then there was, you know, many examples that are quite similar to that. And then the other thing, I think, for women who choose to have children, for female physicians or many women, really, it’s very public when you have a child because you can’t really hide it if you have it yourself. And so then that becomes an opportunity for everyone to comment on: the choices that you’re making, in a way that we don’t comment to men. We may not even necessarily know that a man is the father of a newborn. So things like that were really much more obvious to me for some reason, as a new attending, I felt that I was treated quite differently. And then there were times when I wondered like, “am I making this about gender and it’s not?” And I don’t know. It’s possible that I was and it wasn’t about gender, but it certainly seemed to be. So I don’t know, Kelly, if you have similar experiences?

Kelly Vogt  26:48

Yeah, I definitely agree with a lot of what you said. So going through residency, I really never thought about my gender. And I know, as I said at the beginning, some of that is the privilege of starting residency in 2007. So I know that there was obviously a lot that came before that. My residency class was actually predominantly female, we had one male and five or six, depending on what year it was, females. So there was a lot of us around. And really, whether it was Western, or the time, or our group, I’m not sure, but I really never thought about my gender. And interestingly, in preparation for this discussion today, all of my partners that are in the same hallway as me at work, are people that trained me, and I actually asked them all, did they think about my gender when I was training? And the universal answer was no. That was an interesting experience. But similar to you, I really started to notice that I was a different gender than my colleagues after I came on staff. And for me more specifically than when I came back on staff was actually very much related to your last point, which was when I got married and got pregnant. And for me, that was a huge shift, probably, in part because it was visible, as you said. And also because that was a new sort of aspect to my relationship, and my own views of myself changed. I really noticed the differences between what females who bear children, as one example, encounter in the workforce. And for the first time, I personally felt that the thing that I always did to subconsciously counteract any gender bias, which was just be good at my job – was harder for me to do. Because I not only had a job at the hospital, I also had a really important job at home and continue to have that really important job at home. And I think, you know, bringing it back to RBG, her comment that she was a better mom and a better lawyer, because she did both of those things. I see that in myself, but it’s hard to get to. Chad, I wonder, you’ve obviously worked with a lot of people who have kind of had that transition. Do you see the same type of thing amongst others? Have you seen that in your career?

Chad Ball  29:30

In terms of the negative side of that? Or the positive side of that? Or just the challenge of it?

Kelly Vogt  29:35

Both.

Chad Ball  29:36

Yeah, no, I think so. Again, as a middle aged white male, I don’t necessarily know if it’s my job or I should be commenting on it listening to you guys. I should probably just be quiet and listen in. And I respect your experiences and they make intuitive sense to me. And it’s also somewhat… I don’t know what the word would be to be honest with you. But it makes me a bit sad that there’s any negativity surrounding, for example, having a little one. That you’re right, Rebecca, I mean, the physicality and Kelly, the physicality of trying to hide, not hide, but the physicality of having a baby is very different for a male. But you know, that there’s also more and more examples I think of single fathers or divorced fathers who provide the predominant caregiver activities. And not to switch the narrative of our conversation, but I did wonder and to be honest, I was asked by a very well known, very articulate and bright female that a lot of us know what I thought of RBG’s husband and what I thought of their relationship, and in particular, do you think RBG is RBG without her husband? And I was sort of thought to myself, that’s a very interesting question. Because my sense of her life based on that movie, and then also the non-documentary movie about her, I’m forgetting the name of it. But if her husband, despite being what sounds like the tax lawyer in New York City, did an incredible amount of work with that family during the week and the kids in particular, and I almost got the sense in the documentary that her kids didn’t really… they seem to… maybe it was just the way it was filmed in the snippets, but they seemed to like dad over mom. And there almost seemed to be some resentment in some of their comments there. And I don’t know if that’s true or not, it probably doesn’t matter. But it was clear to me that his support for that family and particularly for RBG’s career, you know, the story of her even being considered for the High Court, and his support of that and his lobbying for that amongst some very powerful people. It was an interesting question. So I think there is, to some extent, increasing male narrative as well – when it comes to kids in particular.

Kelly Vogt  32:12

I found it so interesting talking about him. That he was, you know, the tax lawyer, and that, I think, in a lot of ways, they work hard to sort of say he had an important role too. I remember my first year of medical school, there was a really prominent lecturer male surgeon, who came to talk to us. And before he started his lecture, by way of sharing his worldly wisdom with us, he said to our class, which by the way, was 50% female, the key to success in medicine is to have a wife at home who manages things.  Right? And I remember being, like, so offended by that concept. Like, how could you possibly not be talking to 50% of us. But as I get older, I do see…not that sex is part of that…but the concept of needing some balance in your life, to be able to perform at such a high level, to be able to be efficient, to be able to be effective, you have to have that support. And whether that means that it’s someone who is at home, literally cooking the meals and taking care of the kids, or someone who can provide you the emotional support, who can provide you, whatever it is you need at that particular moment in time. And it sounds like Marty did that for her. Rebecca, I think you were about to say something and I cut you off?

Chad Ball  32:46

Wow. That’s crazy.

Rebecca Auer  33:44

No no, I just think you’re absolutely right. And you know, whether it’s a woman supporting a man or a man supporting a woman, or at different times in the relationship, and different times in each other’s careers, you do that differently. I think it is pretty key to success for either gender. I wanted to clarify my comment about being pregnant. Partly that: because it’s so visible, and because people know they can date stamp your children by when they remember you were pregnant. And how many times you were pregnant. I remember someone saying to me once, like, have you been pregnant for like five years, you know? Because you’re just constantly pregnant….

Chad Ball  34:26

Oh, my God, come on!

Kelly Vogt  34:28

I totally get it!

Rebecca Auer  34:31

But I think the thing is like, and again, it’s just another anecdote of, you know, having the CEO, the former CEO of our research institute stopping me in a parking lot and saying: your names come up for this leadership position a couple of times, but, you know, I just thought I’d talk to you about it, because, you just had a baby. And I just, I figured that you’d be too busy. And he was a wonderful man, and I have a lot of respect for him. And he didn’t mean it in any other way, and you’re probably really tired because you just had your third baby. But my point is: if I was a man, no one would know when I had my last baby. And it would never even occur to them. So I think, you know, as much as… and I’ll be I’ll be quite honest, there’s many opportunities I’ve had probably because I checked the box as a woman. And so being asked to be on certain committees and, you know, membership panels and stuff that I can guarantee I wouldn’t have been asked to, if I didn’t check that box. And so I’ve been benefited greatly. But I think there are some other boxes that you don’t get. There are some times you don’t get tapped on the shoulder, because of the assumption that you’d be putting your family first. And oftentimes, that assumption is right. But, it’s like the decision is somewhat taken away from you. I also remember, for instance, my Chief of Surgery, who was, again, a wonderful man and supported me, but he was saying to me, you know, Rebecca, you’re working so hard, why don’t you just relax a bit and have some children, maybe just do breast surgery. You know? This was my three year annual review No malintent there whatsoever. It’s just a friendly older man looking at a younger woman and saying, you know, I think your life could be a lot easier if you stop trying so hard. So, you know, those are the kinds of experiences because it’s just so public when you have a family because you can’t hide it. I think lots of young male surgeons have the same challenges that young female surgeons have. Many are equal partners to their wives and with childcare, but no one necessarily knows.

Kelly Vogt  37:02

You make an excellent point. And I mean, just to dovetail off that a little bit. In some of my leadership positions, it’s been very blatant, you know, you are qualified for this. But it’s also very important that you’re female, because you round out our leadership team because of that. Which, you know, at first was very offensive to me. And then I just realized, it’s a way to get my foot in the door. And I can demonstrate to them that I’m worthy of those positions. But it’s an incredible place to be.

Ameer Farooq  37:32

I just want to also say that the same thing kind of struck me watching it with my wife. How I was so impressed by the way Marty Ginsburg really just knew how to support RBG. And in particular, there’s this moment, at least in the documentary, I don’t know how accurate this is. But in the documentary, where they sort of talk about how she wouldn’t have necessarily been the top runner for Bill Clinton to nominate to the Supreme Court. But that he’s basically pulled out all the stops, talked to all of his contacts, and got her there, because he really believed believed in her. And so that really is kind of…and you know, in full disclosure my wife, even though she did engineering, and did engineering physics, and is infinitely smarter than I am, really put her career on the backburner so that I could do residency and fellowship. And so it made me really wonder how I can be more supportive and really try to elevate my female colleagues. But you know, it does make me worried to hear you both talk about someone coming up to you and saying, “Oh, we tapped you for this, because you’re good, but you’re also female”. And so, you know, it is not always clear necessarily how to support each other, and make life better for our female colleagues or for our colleagues that are underrepresented. And perhaps minorities that are discriminated in other ways. And so, you know, that’s one thing that I still find myself thinking a lot about, and thinking about how we can support each other all better. The way Marty Ginsburg did for RBG.

Kelly Vogt  39:14

I think that’s a huge start. I mean, really, you know, having the conversations and being willing to look a bit more introspectively about it, I think is where you start. And I think that actually kind of brings us to sort of a nice point that we can maybe wrap up with. And I think just to ground everybody a little bit, you know, we’re recording this in November. And in the last 10 days or week, we’ve had two incredible female firsts in the world: the first female Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and the first executive or manager of Major League Baseball, Kimberly Ng. It’s an incredible time in our universe and RBG often said that her mother, who she says was as brilliant or more brilliant than she was: the only thing that separated her mother from doing what she did, what RBG did, was a generation. We’re all parents on this call. And I think the last thing I’m hoping to get from everybody is, what is it that you want for your kids, one generation behind you? With respect to equity? How do you see the future for our children? Rebecca?

Rebecca Auer  40:44

Yeah, I mean, it’s a really interesting question. Because I’ve had so many interesting talks with my kids, and they don’t see gender, really. And they don’t see race. At that age, I mean, even up to 11, it’s not really something they’ve ever considered, it’s certainly not something that they, you know, they think of as being different in terms of equity, which I’ve always thought of as a good thing. But when a lot of this Black Lives Matters stuff came out, there was so much commentary about how, you know, being blind to gender, blind to diversity is actually not the right thing. Because you have to recognize it, sort of to address it and change it. So I think before that, I would have said, like, I want them to not see. To not see gender and to not see race. And I guess I still want that, but I want them to not see it in a world where it actually truly doesn’t matter. It would be wonderful if when they’re adults, that was true. But if it’s not, then I want I would want them to be very proactive about, you know, recognizing the differences and maybe knowing or being open minded to try and understand how best to support others. I’m the mother of three boys, so whether it’s women or whether it’s other ethnicities and other races, you know, first of all seeing people. But second of all, if there are inequalities that exist, recognizing them, and I guess, working as much as possible to try and equalize them.

Chad Ball  42:30

Yeah, I don’t think I can talk for Rebecca’s summary, I think that’s beautifully eloquent. And I would agree, you know, in my life and with my kids 1,000%. You know, I don’t want to devolve or move into the debate between equity of opportunity and equity of outcome. But the truth is, at least from my point of view, again, as a requisite middle aged, white male, who has three kids who’s raising them as a single dad, and who very much, you know, they lack the same intuitive or maybe baseline view of race and gender differences. Having said all those caveats, I want them to have equity of opportunity. I want them to be able to do whatever their talents allow them to do. And to think nothing otherwise. Having said that, you know, as you point out, the two great examples being Kamala Harris and Kim Ng, we’ve had very long conversations in the past week about both of those. I think my messaging again, to my kids, including my son has been just work really hard. Recognize what’s around you and you can be anything that you want. And, you know, I think perhaps due to my ignorance, a little bit about Kamala Harris, my knowledge or depth of knowledge about Kim Ng is a lot more. I mean, there’s a person that independent of gender, deserved, and I’ve rarely in my life, used that word “deserve”. But she deserved that job. She’s been pro baseball for about 25 years. She was the assistant GM for the New York Yankees. Steinbrenner used to send her to the GM meeting, when he was upset with his GM. Doesn’t matter what his name is, but he he would keep them back in New York. And she’s continuously been described as the smartest person in the room through all those meetings. She’s worked for the league. Like it was about time she was given that opportunity. And baseball in particular is such a cerebral drafting process and numbers based game. It’s not like you needed to play that game, heaven forbid that old argument, to be an incredible manager of it. So I’m really excited to see how she does and we talked to my kids a lot about that example in particular and it was interesting at the end of it. They sort of looked at me and their summary sentences were essentially, “well, of course, like, that’s, that’s clear to us man! What are you even talking about?” So either that was my poor communication or hopefully that the world has come a long way for them?

Kelly Vogt  45:14

I hope it’s the latter. I agree. Ameer, what do you think?

Ameer Farooq  45:17

Oh man. I don’t really like being put in the position of having to follow all those wonderful comments. And I would just say that I hope that we can, as a society continue to work on these issues and not really lose hope just because, you know, we thought that if we could pass some laws or that these issues are all going to go away. I’m very hopeful that the world’s gonna continue to get better and become a better place. You know, one thing I’ll just highlight, again, is just the fact that RBG became an icon, in sort of the social media world and among really young people in her 80s, to me is just really heartening and exciting and I just hope that we can continue to work on these issues collectively and individually and continue to grow and get better.

You’ve been listening to Cold Steel, the official podcast of the Canadian Journal of Surgery. If you’ve liked what you’ve been listening to, please leave us a review on iTunes. We’d love to hear your comments and feedback. So feel free to email us at podcast.cjs@gmail.com, or connect with us on Twitter @CanJSurg. Thanks again.