4 out of 4 stars
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There’s no denying that gender equality has progressed by leaps and bounds in the last 50 years or more. American women are free to hold careers, pursue education, and chase ambitions that far surpass what our grandmothers could have dreamed. There are legal mandates as well as evolving social norms that dictate the fair treatment of women in the workplace. However, this is not to say that discrimination does not still exist. Many instances of prejudice continue to slip through the cracks. Unfortunately, identifying (and proving) the root of the problem can be very difficult. A shadow of doubt is often cast over the cause of ill-treatment: Is it really my own fault? Can it possibly be something as ridiculous as sexism in this day and age? Author Sophia H. Garrett has experienced this horrible dilemma in her position as a psychiatrist and wrote her non-fiction book Discrimination and Harassment One woman's personal story of trials,tribulations and triumph so that other women facing this problem will know that they are not alone.
Sophia H. Garrett earned her medical degree abroad and settled in Sacramento, California to accept a position as a staff psychiatrist at the Sacramento Park Medical Center in 1995. She demonstrates her skills as a psychiatrist and willingness to work hard from the beginning and is accordingly appointed temporary Acting Chief of Psychiatry. Garrett finds joy and fulfillment in her position, but her good fortune does not last long. During her tenure as Acting Chief, a new doctor, Dr. Sariva, arrives at the Medical Center. From the outset Dr. Sariva demonstrates hostility and a mean temper towards Garrett, despite his cordiality with several other (male) colleagues. Soon, the hospital undergoes changes in administration, resulting in Dr. Sariva’s promotion above Garrett. For the next 10 years, Garrett continues to work extra hard and carry a heavier workload than the other (male) psychiatrists on staff, yet Dr. Sariva continuously berates and insults her. Working under these harsh conditions causes her self-esteem and confidence in her medical skills to plummet, despite a good record with patient care. Eventually, though, Garret is able to take control of the matter into her own hands.
While the story revolves around highly educated individuals in a professional setting, I think that the basic patterns in the coworkers’ relationships and interactions may be relevant across many different fields. Garrett knows that she must be calm and collected when she is screamed at by a belligerent male boss. She puts in extra hours and far surpasses the amount of work done by her male coworkers, but is never recognized for it. Her salary suffers, her reputation suffers, her own health and professional relationships suffer. Many women fall into similar traps, both in and out of the workplace. Very few people will outright say “I am mistreating you because you are a woman,” so it can sometimes take years to find a resolution. By the end, Garrett is able to prove her case using documented hard facts and eyewitnesses.
The book is short and is evenly paced to allow for a quick read. The tone of the narration is calm and smooth. It is easy to slip into sounding whiny or over-reactive when presenting a problem like this, but Garrett handles her expression masterfully. The facts and her own reaction to each situation are presented, but the details do not weigh down the storytelling process. I never felt confused or lost; the progression over the years is easy to follow. I found no spelling errors or grammar mistakes, though there were a couple of instances where the page formatting was slightly off (such as a paragraph break in the middle of a sentence).
To be honest, as a young woman myself pursuing a similar STEM career, encountering a situation like this is a nightmare for me. Reading this book was like listening to a friend spill her woes. I was fully engrossed in the story; I became angry and relieved at each turn of fortune for author. The story is very personal and I’m sure many women could relate to it at some point in their lives, though this is perhaps an extreme case of gender discrimination. I’m glad that advice is given at the end of the book in case the reader ever finds herself in a similar hostile work environment. I recommend this book to women who find themselves in sexist working conditions to know that they are not alone, or to others to understand that gender discrimination still exists. I give Discrimination and Harassment One woman's personal story of trials,tribulations and triumph 4 out of 4 stars!
Discrimination and Harassment One woman's personal story of trials,tribulations and triumph
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