Doctors have hit back at a controversial study that claimed female medical staff who posted photos of themselves in bikinis on social media were “unprofessional” by flooding social media with bikini pictures.
The study which was quietly published behind a paywall on December 25, 2019 looked at the social media accounts of recent vascular-surgery graduates. After becoming available online for free recently, the paper sparked the unusual and defiant social media protest among female healthcare workers.
Researchers created fake social media profiles to view each of the graduates photos and determined that 61 of the 235 medical residents they studied had "unprofessional or potentially unprofessional content” which they considered “provocative”.
The research suggested photos of doctors drinking alcohol, wearing Halloween costumes and sharing bikini photos among the offensive content. Using profane language on social media was also seen as negative.
When the paper was shared around, it raised eyebrows in the medical community and female doctors from around the world began sharing their bikini photos online to protest the study, which they say exposes sexism in the medical industry.
‘Surgeons can wear bikinis’
Former medical student, Emily Casey posted a photo in a bikini describing the culture underpinning the research idea as “backwards”.
Surgeon Daisy Sanchez posted side by side photos of her, one in her scrubs and the other in a bikini with the caption “surgeons can wear bikinis.”
Emergency Medicine Physician Kesia Nguyen posted a group of swimsuit photos and wrote “last time I checked, I can wear whatever I want.”
I am a woman in medicine who loves to travel to tropical locations and dress accordingly. I will not wear my white coat and scrubs to Hawaii. This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent or compassionate compared to my male colleagues. #medbikini #girlmedtwitter pic.twitter.com/RmCQBnUme6— saphrophyticus (@stephlococcus) July 23, 2020
Using the hashtag #MedBikini hundreds of photos of women from different professions within the medical industry have appeared on Twitter standing up for their right to wear whatever they want when they aren’t working.
“I will not wear my white coat and scrubs to Hawaii. This does not make me unprofessional or less intelligent,” Steph Lococcus shared, along with photos of her enjoying the water.
“You can be a doctor and wear a bikini… mind-blowing,” Dr Natalie Miles wrote.
Others used it as an example to let medical students know that posting photos of themselves in a bikini had not impacted on their career.
“I promise me posting a picture in a bikini has ZERO impact on me being professional,” Dr Alex wrote.
Male medical staff also started posting swimsuit photos to support their female colleagues, one even went for the full monty.
“Posting this photo four years ago did not stop me from being a professional MD,” Dr Tobi wrote sharing a photo of himself almost naked.
The editors of the Journal of Vascular Surgery, where the study was published, said while they believed the study was done in good faith to “advise young vascular surgeons about the risks of social media”, they had decided to retract the paper.
“Many who read the article expressed great concerns about the method of data collection, lack of diversity of the authors collecting data, as well as a potential bias in the evaluation and conclusion,” editors Peter Gloviezki and Peter Lawrence wrote in a statement.
They also acknowledged the authors did not receive approval to use the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery database to identify surgeons in training.
“In a world where everything feels unfair and futile sometimes, a rallying cry from bikini-wearing doctors with social media accounts just righted a wrong,” a female doctor wrote.
Hats off to them.
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