Early Career Academia: Ready To Face The Bull?

With the multi-hyphenated identity of being a female born in a traditional Sindhi family, raised in a small city, I chose to continue higher studies, opted for Psychiatry as a sub-specialty & moved out of my parents’ house.

Belonging to a culture where girls are usually protected and supported by families with whom they are connected either by blood or by marriage, I was blessed to have a family that helped and supported me to continue my education and pursue my career. Today I’m 1 of the 2 Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (CAP) fellows from Pakistan, a country where CAP makes for 0.01% of the general adult psychiatry.

There are around 500 adult psychiatrists in the country. Hardly any female psychiatrist has been elected for leadership positions in professional bodies. There are few influential female psychiatrists who continue to work in their own capacities, and most of them are within the private sector. However, it is not genuinely translated into anything close to what gender-friendly culture looks like. Having crossed all these obstacles at such a young age from a rural city of Pakistan, when I stand in front of the patriarch system (which tries to undermine my authority), I can not help myself but think of the “Fearless Girl who faced down Wall Street’s bull.” And this helps my neuronal synapses to rejuvenate.

I have learned an essential concept of graceful self-promotion from my role-model — a female mentor. Many of us are hampered in advancing our careers because of our difficulty with self-promotion. Women have unconsciously internalized that self-promotion is shameless and in poor taste, is egocentric, and that indeed it is not “professional” to toot your own horn. However, this is not true.

This is the conditioned self we carry that is shaped by the environment (at all levels). It is about time that we replace this conditioned-self with our authentic self. Let’s be the voice for each other and make some noise. Our voices need to be heard. My dear female colleagues from academia, take your due credit gracefully and own it!

Originally published at https://www.obaawoman.com on March 3, 2020.

Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist; Co-Founder & Director @synapsepk Mental Health Entrepreneur. Recycled Stardust. Evolution. Psychoanalysis. Grit 🇵🇰