Shannon Headley, MA, LPC, MSIV

Medical Student Research, Licensed Therapist & Medical Student
  • Licensed Therapist & Medical Student
  • United States of America

Recent Comments

From: Headley, Shannon
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2020 3:25 PM
To: Vercellini, Paolo
Cc: FertStert Editorial Office
Subject: Concern

Hello Gentlemen,

With the recent events and public shaming of The Journal of Vascular Surgery regarding their publication of Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content among Young Vascular Surgeons, and specifically the outcry from women surgeons regarding the implicit bias and gender discrimination using the word "bikini," I wanted to bring an article to your attention privately since I am not in the business of shaming, but rather, educating.

A colleague contacted me today regarding Attractiveness of Women with Rectovaginal Endometriosis: A Case-control Study, and the stated conclusion of "Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups. Moreover, they had a leaner silhouette, larger breasts, and an earlier coitarche." DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.08.039

Although your methodology includes 4 independent female and male observers, I can foresee this article causing another outrage where women feel objectified or discriminated against and I wanted to bring this to your attention.

My hope is that the editors-in-chief and corresponding author will consider my feedback and make the best decision for your journal.

All the Best,

Shannon Headley, MA LPC

Student Doctor | MSIV

From: Headley, Shannon
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2020 2:44 PM
To: Vercellini, Paolo
Cc: FertStert Editorial Office
Subject: Re: Concern

Dr. Vercellini, 

Thank you for taking the time to thoroughly respond to my e-mail. I appreciate both your personal thoughtfulness, and the scientific basis evident in your methodology and study design.

As I read your e-mail, I recognized your humility and respect for humankind, including women. Thank you for providing clarity that the male observers only judged the facial characteristics of women.

As I read your e-mail, I was simultaneously overcome with sadness. I realize that American women who are hurting from years of discrimination and abuse from a (slowly resolving) misogynistic culture, are not taking the time to have the discussion that you and I are currently having, and instead are assuming the worst, e.g., being objectified or degraded by men when reading the title and conclusion of your study. 

As I am sure you are aware, recently in the United States, there has been a push for systemic change regarding discrimination and racism. Minority groups who have been oppressed in our country are finally having the courage to use their voice and advocate  for their dignity and humanity. This has caused, unfortunately, a trending outrage to publicly address and shame those via social media outlets who are inappropriately identified as the oppressors, rather than recognizing the need for systemic change that is rooted in implicit bias amongst an ever changing American culture and the need for more neutral and inclusive terminology.

I am so sorry that your research has received such scrutiny. Thank you for honoring the oath of physicians worldwide to care for patients with dignity and respect.

Before we conclude our discussion, I suggest to the editors of the Journal of Fertility and Sterility to consider having a discussion to release a statement that would address 1) recognition of emotionally wounded female and minority colleagues from a historically male predominated culture, and 2) strategies to implement systemic change in research regarding culturally sensitive topics.

I respect and admire you, Dr. Vercellini. I hope that you have a wonderful evening.

All the Best,

Shannon Headley, MA, LPC
Student Doctor, MSIV

From: Headley, Shannon
Sent: Monday, July 27, 2020 7:47 PM
To: Vercellini, Paolo
Cc: FertStert Editorial Office
Subject: Re: Concern

Dr. Vercellini & CC: Editorial Board of F&S,

After reading your e-mail again, I realized a few things I did not express earlier and thought it could provide some insight to you and your co-authors, and the editorial team.

Often the Abstract is the only aspect of the manuscript that people read, unfortunately, before making an assumption about the research. Most do not continue reading to get the full picture. This is the fault of no one but the reader.

For this reason, it is imperative that as researchers we state conclusions that will support our research yet be as neutral as possible. I agree that fifteen years ago, you could not have foreseen how facial attractiveness could have been misinterpreted as women being objectified.

I think that the verbiage used to state the conclusion painted a mental picture that independent observers rated the silhouettes and breasts of rectovaginal endometriosis patients to assess their attractiveness, rather than interpreting it as you stated: genes and subsequent hormones unique to rectovaginal endometriosis patients correlate to a statistically significant increase in facial attractiveness in rectovaginal endometriosis patients.

I think this same line of thought also applies to the stated objective in the abstract: to evaluate physical attractiveness in women with and without endometriosis. Perhaps it could have stated instead, “to evaluate facial attractiveness in women with and without endometriosis.” But again, I am offering alternative ways of stating the title given the current climate of America and the need for systemic change.

I also think the English word, “judged,” has a more negative connotation in America than perhaps a more neutral word like, “assessed.” And as stated in my previous e-mail, the current climate regarding women feeling degraded by a (slowly resolving) misogynistic culture is likely why women are targeting your article. Would using scientific terminology like “Phenotypic attractiveness in women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study” be more neutral and subsequently, cross-culturally sensitive? I am not quite sure, but I think this is the kind of discussion that needs to take place amongst the editorial board.

I hope that my insights will be well-received. 

All the Best,

Shannon Headley, MA, LPC
Student Doctor, MSIV

From: Headley, Shannon
Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2020 3:25 PM
To: Vercellini, Paolo
Cc: FertStert Editorial Office
Subject: Concern

Hello Gentlemen,

With the recent events and public shaming of The Journal of Vascular Surgery regarding their publication of Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content among Young Vascular Surgeons, and specifically the outcry from women surgeons regarding the implicit bias and gender discrimination using the word "bikini," I wanted to bring an article to your attention privately since I am not in the business of shaming, but rather, educating.

A colleague contacted me today regarding Attractiveness of Women with Rectovaginal Endometriosis: A Case-control Study, and the stated conclusion of "Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups. Moreover, they had a leaner silhouette, larger breasts, and an earlier coitarche." DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.08.039

Although your methodology includes 4 independent female and male observers, I can foresee this article causing another outrage where women feel objectified or discriminated against and I wanted to bring this to your attention.

My hope is that the editors-in-chief and corresponding author will consider my feedback and make the best decision for your journal.

All the Best,

Shannon Headley, MA LPC

Student Doctor | MSIV