By Serena Bidwell
“Who inspires you?”
“Who is your biggest role model?”
I can recall being asked these questions throughout elementary school, as they were often prompts to short writing assignments and generated conversations in young classrooms. Similar to many other students, I would frequently respond that my biggest role model was my mother, but, as I’ve gotten older, this has become truer and increasingly more apparent.
My mom is a surgeon scientist, an accomplished, determined, innovative woman in the medical field who devotes her time to both novel stem cell cancer research and relationships with patients through her clinical duties. Her job title alone is reason to admire her, but, recently, I’ve started to notice all the challenges she has had to face to get to where she is today, and these feats make me even prouder to call her my mom and inspiration.
When she attended medical school at Stanford, she was one of the few women in her program. Furthermore, men have held the majority of the administrative positions within her work institutions. She has had to negotiate her salary to match her male counterparts and has had difficult conversations regarding the expectations of female versus male faculty members. She has been called names in response to her assertive attitudes, and she has been rejected from positions because she “didn’t fit the image.” Yet, she found a way to persevere, to fight for her own workplace dreams, to create change.
My mother has navigated through obstacles in a once male-dominated field and now runs her own successful research lab at the renowned Cleveland Clinic. However, I can’t help but wonder if our generation will have to battle the same struggles she faced.
How much has our society truly changed? I would love to believe that we now live in a world where one’s gender or identity does not limit his or her success. But if women lead with the same passion, fortitude, and vigor as their male coworkers, will they be rewarded in the same way? Or will they be ridiculed for not demonstrating
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