A study on “unprofessional social media content among young vascular surgeons” has female doctors sharing photos of themselves wearing bikinis in protest of sexist double standards.
The study was published in the Journal of Vascular Surgery in December 2019, but was recently made available to the public, ultimately gaining a wider audience and facing significant backlash.
The conclusion by the study, conducted by a predominantly male team, was that “unprofessional” social media can impact “patient choice of physician, hospital, and medical facility.” These ideas of unprofessionalism, when applied to clothing choice in photos shared online, included photos of young doctors wearing “underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear.”
While it’s true that our social media presence effects our lives beyond just what happens on the internet, it’s immediately apparent that the above ideas of unprofessionalism are going to apply unevenly to women rather than men.
So to push back against these antiquated ideas that say women wearing swimwear is “provocative” but men posing half-naked in swim trunks is completely normal, female doctors have begun sharing photos using the hashtag #MedBikini.
It’s been fantastic to see these women confidently sharing completely normal photos of themselves doing completely normal things, and the captions have been equally inspiring.
And some men are making it a point to stand up to the double standards, as well.
The Journal of Vascular Surgery was forced to retract the article after the backlash.
“Many who have read the article expressed great concerns about the method of data collection, as well as potential bias in the evaluation and the conclusion,” the editors wrote in a statement.
That, along with discovering that “the authors did not receive the approval of the Association of Program Directors in Vascular Surgery (APDVS) to use its database in identifying the vascular surgeons in training who were evaluated for their participation in social media” resulted in its retraction.
But the fact that scores of people online had to get involved in order for this journal to notice what should have been very obvious bias and issues with the study ultimately only draws even more attention to the problem of bias in the field.
One of the authors, Dr. Jeff Siracuse, also apologized for the study.
“Our intent was to empower surgeons to be aware and then personally decide what may be easily available for our patients and colleagues to see about us social media,” Siracuse wrote on Twitter.
“However, this was clearly not the result. We realize that the definition of professionalism is rapidly changing in medicine and that we need to support our trainees and surgeons as our society changes without the appearance of judgment.”
His Twitter account appears to have since been deleted.