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Women Inspiring Leaders: Dr. Jen Gunter on facts and humanity in medicine, politics and feminism

September 05, 2019
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Written by
Nancy Dale

Nancy Dale

Written by
Victoria Beales

Victoria Beales

Dr. Jennifer Gunter is fearless. She’s taken women’s health myths head on, and challenged everyone from anti-vaxxers, to Gwyneth Paltrow and the GOOP Empire, to pro-life groups and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Earlier this week, the Canadian-born OB/GYN spoke to more than 100 women as part of NATIONAL Public Relations’ Women Inspiring Leaders breakfast series. Equal parts substance, sass and common sense, she didn’t disappoint.

“There are layers and layers of shame baked onto being a woman,” she told Lainey Lui, author, celebrity gossip guru and co-host of CTV’s The Social, who moderated the breakfast discussion. “So you don’t want to add to that. Instead I give facts. If we keep presenting facts, change will happen.”

Many women—and men—have followed Gunter for years, pouring over her blog since 2011 and subsequent New York Times column. Often referred to as the Internet’s doc, she has international credibility and has long been someone to watch in the health and women’s health space. In recent years, her social media profile has exploded.

Dr. Jen Gunter with moderator Lainey Lui, author, celebrity gossip guru and co-host of CTV’s The Social

Gunter in conversation with Lui shared the nitty-gritty about her recently released book, The Vagina Bible—and she did not mince words. Here are some of our favourites:

  • *Women need the best so I became an OB/GYN because I’m the best! *
  • Call things what they are. Euphemisms don’t help anyone and lies hurt women.
  • Keeping information back from people is a tool of the patriarchy.
  • The best science is useless if you can’t communicate it to somebody.
  • *We need more caring in healthcare. More humanity in medicine. *
  • At a certain point I swallowed the red pill and started asking—does this benefit the patriarchy or does this benefit me?
  • The government is where laws are made. The only good thing about Trump is that there has been a backlash and groundswell of young women entering politics. We need more women in politics.
  • You have to give something to get something.
  • Revolution looks different for everyone! It can start with reading The Vagina Bible on a train.

Dr. Gunter’s best advice on honing the skill set of new leaders is: “be yourself.” She recalled her own medical school days, where she bucked tradition and learned the power of showing up as your best self.

We can all learn a lot from this—it’s not about playing the role you think other people want you to play, but bringing your own best skills to the table. Sage advice in a world full of self-promotion and inauthenticity. Speaking about her own influence and the power of female leaders in general, Gunter left the women in the audience with a reminder of the power of collaboration. “Everything we have as women is because of the women who came before us,” she said.

Gunter is hopeful her work will support her goal of lifting other women up—and subsequently, inspire others to do the same.

——— Victoria Beales is a former Associate at NATIONAL Public Relations

——— Nancy Dale is a former Vice-President and Practice Lead, Healthcare at NATIONAL Public Relations


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