We know that the current VWMS arrangements for looking after our members and associate members, is appreciated by them. Men who become aware of this organization may wonder why they cannot join and benefit from the companionship we generate. We welcome their support and invite them to some of our events.
We also provide other events that our committee offers only for our members. To do this we must apply every 3 years to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission for exemption from their regulations for our women only events. So far this has never been refused.
The reasons for limiting our membership are historical and current. The history of VMWS is that we were founded in1896 by women doctors who were excludedfrom ongoing training in Victorian hospitals by the medical hierarchy even though they had graduated from university in Australia and overseas. They decided to start their own hospital treating women and children. It became the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital (absorbed in 1977 into the Monash Medical Centre). Over about 70 years the “Queen Vic” initially only had women doctors on the staff. They could train and work there and had opportunities they may not have had in other Australian medical centres. Mutual support between the women doctors and within the hospital, also for women and children patients, was a unique feature of the medical Melbourne scene.
Currently the VMWS has continued to help and encourage women doctors and students. There are many barriers and sources of discouraging advice for women as they seek to establish their careers. This persists even though femaleenrollments in medicine often exceed 50%. Many options are closed or made difficult with excuses about childbearing, etc. Some VMWS senior doctors haveexperienced these and recent graduates report the same.
VMWS encourages those who have such experiences to join our group and we research solutions to individual problems and help each other. We have recently commenced a mentoring program for interested members.
We encourage constructive discussion with our male colleagues. Many men are concerned about the professional and personal careers of women in medicine. We hope to have a broad discussion with medical colleges and other organisations incorporating both women and men who are having difficulties. It is such a discouraging experience to spend years in training then fail to succeed at the end. Men have some of these problems however they generally have more support and encouragement from senior colleagues than women do.