Research has shown that having academic contact with female professionals in science, technology, engineering and Medicine can have positive influences on students—female students in particular. For girls and young women studying these subjects in school, being able to identify female role models helps them imagine themselves as Healthcare professionals. The role models enhance their perceptions of such careers and boost their confidence in studying such subjects.
I can certainly relate to this role model effect as an early career professional. I always felt more confidence when I encountered a female colleague. During my cardiology posting as a senior house officer, there was only one female cardiology consultant in the department, she was very smart and beautiful, and every time I saw her or worked with her, I felt as sense of pride and confidence I couldn’t explain. And the fact that she was a BAME consultant also gave me that feeling that ‘I too could do it”
When it comes to attracting more minorities to study and pursue careers in Medicine, the same formula works equally well. In fact, within the African-American community, there is strong interest in celebrating role models of achievement: Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Who can resist celebrating the local kid who came up, so to speak?
For one, such stories are inspiring; but more specifically, for members of groups that have been historically stereotyped or marginalized, it is also about pride. I am repeatedly humbled by the number and volume of people who congratulate me, or my family, for completing university and studying medicine. When I meet a young black lady who asks how long I have been a doctor and how difficult was it, I always use the opportunity to encourage and motivate them, and it gets me when I see that glimmer of hope in their eyes
Among my friends, who are also members of minority groups, they share similar experiences. Some of us may have come from blue collar families, others from middle-class families, but all of us have experienced that call to ‘give-back’ – that expectation to share our time, our talent, our testimony with others from our group.
Dr Omon Imohi