Dr Maha Raganuth is an Honourary Consultant Gynaecologist at Nottingham University Hospital with extensive experience as a Medical Director. Being a leading medical professional in the UK she is a well-respected doctor and incredibly experienced in her discipline.
Although her aptitude for medicine and knowledge of her sector is now well respected this hasn’t always been the case. Being a female from India who travelled to the UK for work in the early 90s, she has experienced discrimination throughout her career for a multitude of reasons.
When I arrived in the UK in 1993 the workplace was very discriminating towards doctors from out of the UK. I started work as a junior doctor having got up to being a consultant back home in India. So, it was hard to start at the bottom again and to have to be managed by Consultants who did not have that much more experience than me. I was also the only non-white Asian doctor and felt I was undermined and perhaps not offered the same opportunities as my white counterparts. Thankfully my second post with another Consultant proved to be the turning point for my career, as he recognized my worth and encouraged motivated and mentored me through those initial times.
I moved regions from the Northwest to Wales with my family and husbands’ job (as he was also a doctor in training) and once again found myself at the bottom rung. But my previous experience and tenacity to keep going gave me the strength to start all over again to gain a rotational training post that subsequently allowed me to become a Consultant 7 years later.
It is important to acknowledge that females start at a handicap and that the workplace is still very partial to men. There is a lot of worldwide data and evidence that females are paid less for doing the same job as a man and that it takes longer to accomplish accolades given that capabilities are equal. So sadly, we do have to work harder to prove ourselves compared to a man in the same situation. I would also say that one can have it all and that women do not have to settle for less and sacrifice their family aspirations on the altar of a career.
Having said the difficulties relating to how we are perceived, as females we can proud of ourselves for our approaches at work. Women have a more sympathetic approach to problem-solving and do better at workplace interaction than men. A woman’s ability at both verbal and non-verbal communication is also much more efficient.
I have had a close relative, who needed IVF and we as a family went through all of her trials and tribulations with her. So I know how deeply it can affect the whole family, even if one is not the person having treatment. To come out of the other side successfully is great but I can understand how difficult it would be to have not succeeded in the endeavour especially after the money spent.
At 16 I was already considering becoming a Doctor and also an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist as I came from a family of doctors, most of whom were gynaecologists. Even though I went into training with a neutral stance to doing Medicine as a career, I found myself increasingly committed to becoming a doctor as I went through the training. I never openly questioned my parent’s decision for my career although I at times had self-doubt as to my choices.
I now know that this was absolutely the right decision for me especially that it led me to subspecialise in fertility which I feel is my calling.