LHSC celebrates International Women's Day

From left to right: Bernadette Kariuke, Charge Nurse in Medicine, and Patricia Fuentes, Coordinator in Clinical ITS

March 8, 2024

Each year, March 8 is recognized throughout the world as International Women’s Day.  It is a day that honours the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and serves as a call-to-action to advance gender equity across the globe.

At LHSC, International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many inspiring women on Team LHSC, their accomplishments in the field of health care and their advice for the next generation. It is also a chance to recognize that many women, especially those who also belong to other equity-denied groups, continue to face barriers and disparities in the workplace, and the collective work we have in front of us to advance equity.

Discrimination in the workplace 

Throughout her career, Bernadette Kariuke has experienced many unique and challenging situations on the front line of health care. After moving from Kenya to London to pursue her dream of a career in nursing, she encountered instances where she faced gender bias and racism.  

“It didn’t happen very often,” she stated, “but when it did, I would confront it because I think it is important.  As a woman of colour, I have experienced racism in addition to gender bias and it was very difficult to deal with. I would ask questions to understand why they felt this way and show them that I am confident in my abilities.”

Patricia Fueta’s career journey has followed a winding path that started in nursing and led to her becoming a Coordinator on LHSC’s Clinical Information Technology Services (ITS) team. She doesn’t recall any specific instances where she was confronted with gender bias or discrimination at LHSC, but is well-equipped with a strategy for if that time comes.  

“If I’m ever in a situation where I feel like someone is uncomfortable with who I am, I would try to understand their perspective first,” she said. “There are a couple of different factors that come into play. Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m Black? If you exude confidence and show people that you are an expert in your field, it enables you to shift the conversation and show them that you are knowledgeable, despite what they might think about you.”

Advice for young women 

As a Charge Nurse in Medicine at Victoria Hospital, Bernadette holds responsibilities that include coordinating nurses' schedules and supporting them in their work by answering questions and giving advice.  

She tells young women who are starting their nursing careers to remember to take care of themselves and create a vision board to reflect upon their reason for following this career path. She shared that “Nursing is a wonderful career if you have a passion for taking care of others. At the end of the day, it gives you satisfaction because you feel that you have done something to make someone’s day better.”

When asked about the stereotype of ITS being a male-dominated industry, Patricia smiles and said, “Definitely not anymore! Things have certainly changed and it’s nice to see. Within ITS, we have women in many different roles, including privacy and risk, data and finance, clinicians and programmers.”

Patricia’s advice for young women interested in a career in ITS is based on her first-hand experience. “Ask questions, be curious, and lean on the people who believe in you to support you along the way.”  

She points to her own career journey as a lesson to others. “I had a lot of people ask me if I was sure that I wanted to transition from nursing to a position with ITS. Ask questions to gain as much knowledge as you can to be confident about your abilities. This will set you up for success!” 

LHSC is committed to advancing gender equity and inclusion by dismantling systems of oppression, discrimination, racism and bias. This is work we are advancing across LHSC with the support of our Office of Inclusion and Social Accountability.