CPSO is #EachForEqual


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Drs. Sheila Laredo, Brenda Copps and Nancy Whitmore
From left to right, Drs. Sheila Laredo, Brenda Copps and Nancy Whitmore

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) would like to acknowledge the contributions of and great leadership shown by our own team of women. Almost two years ago, Dr. Nancy Whitmore became the College’s first-ever female registrar and CEO. In 2020, we also have a female president (only the sixth in our 150-year history), Dr. Brenda Copps, and a female chief medical advisor, Dr. Sheila Laredo. What’s more, our senior management team is now comprised mostly of women. “It’s an honour to be the sixth female in this position, to stand on the shoulders of the women before me and to be another symbol of progress for those ahead of me,” says Dr. Copps. These women have been working toward a future where individuals at CPSO will never be held back by their gender.

We also celebrated the incredible contributions of women making a difference in medicine. Two of our four Council award winners in 2019 were women: Dr. Marie Gear, a family practitioner in Teeswater, Ontario, and Dr. Michelle Hladunewich Physician-in-Chief at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. The province itself has seen a 35% increase in licensed female physicians over the past two decades. Quebec already has more women practicing medicine than men, and since 2010 most medical schools have had a higher percentage of female students over males. It’s clear we are seeing a generational sea change on the gender front, and the CPSO projects that by 2030 women will overtake men in Ontario as practicing doctors.

But there are smaller changes behind the scenes that make a big difference when it comes to building an #EachForEqual workplace. Here are some other great strides we’ve made in recent years:

  • Strict dress codes can often reinforce gender roles, putting unfair expectations on women and obstructing a truly gender-equal workplace. In 2019, CPSO switched to a “Dress for the Day” dress code, placing trust in each staff member to best match the standards of professionalism with their own comfort and express in an appropriate manner who they are.
  • CPSO’s parental leave policy is critical to ensuring that new mothers feel confident that there should not be a choice between career and family, and that new fathers can play a stronger role in parenting while enabling their spouse to return to the workplace sooner. Offering equal parental leave to both parents plays a huge part in offering a gender-equal workplace overall.
  • For the last several years, the CPSO has had a formal salary grid in place with clearly defined levels and steps for advancement. This has helped us in our fight to ensure equal pay for equal work.

Of course, when it comes to gender equality, our work is not done. We know we still don’t have gender parity on our governing Council; nor does it accurately reflect the demographic breakdown of Ontario or its medical profession. We also know there remains a large gender bias in health care overall that is hurting women and transgender people.

But the advancements we’ve made, and the work left to do, are both clear. Building a gender-equal world starts when we are all #EachForEqual, the theme of 2020’s International Women’s Day. “As CPSO’s first female registrar and CEO and a mother to three daughters, this is an important day for me,” says Dr. Whitmore. “The theme of this year’s IWD is one I’m already seeing progress in not only our workplace but in the attitudes of so many individuals across the province I get to interact with. I’m excited to see where we go next."