Feature Story | 6-Mar-2024

UK HealthCare Women's History Month Q&A: Asha Shenoi

University of Kentucky

Women’s History Month is a nationally recognized observance that commemorates the role of women throughout American History. Though its roots as a national celebration trace back to 1981, the presidential proclamation of every March as Women’s History Month officially began in 1995. This proclamation is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of women to the United States and recognize specific achievements by women throughout history. Every week in March, we will offer perspectives on this national observance and their own life experiences from women at UK HealthCare. 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 6, 2024) — This week’s Q&A features Asha Shenoi, M.D., a pediatric critical care physician with Kentucky Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics in the UK College of Medicine.

Q: What does Women's History Month mean to you?

Shenoi: Women's History Month is a time to reflect and remember the incredibly powerful and resilient women who have paved the path for a more just and inclusive future. It is a powerful reminder for me to give forward and continue to cement the path for the next generations of women.

Q: What are some of the challenges you've faced as a woman in your profession, and how have you navigated them?

Shenoi: In my professional journey as a physician of color trained internationally, I have encountered distinct challenges that have influenced my experience, including biases and misconceptions related to my background, assessments of my perceived competence and communication effectiveness, and subtle instances of non-inclusion in work-related discussions and social events.

In navigating these challenges, I have made it a priority to nurture confidence in my abilities and celebrate achievements genuinely. Creating a supportive network of trusted colleagues and mentors has been integral, offering both encouragement and a profound sense of belonging.

Advocating for myself and other women has become a personal mission, addressing biases and misconceptions with calm assertiveness while continuously educating colleagues about diversity, equity, and inclusion to foster a more understanding and inclusive environment. By sharing my story and promoting awareness, I aim to influence positive change for others facing similar challenges.

Q: Who are the women who have inspired or influenced you the most, and why?

Shenoi: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) and my mother, though navigating different continents and cultural contexts, share a common thread in their careers within the legal field, exemplifying the transformative power of education and the empowerment of women across diverse settings. RBG's groundbreaking work in the United States and my mother's pursuits in a distinct cultural landscape showcase the universality of the belief that education is a catalyst for change.

Both women, in their respective journeys, highlight the importance of learning in challenging societal norms and dismantling barriers. In witnessing their parallel narratives, I am inspired by the idea that education, coupled with gentle but persistent defiance is a potent force in enabling women to break through societal expectations, advocate for their rights, and contribute meaningfully to various fields.

UK HealthCare is the hospitals and clinics of the University of Kentucky. But it is so much more. It is more than 10,000 dedicated health care professionals committed to providing advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients from the Commonwealth and beyond. It also is the home of the state’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, a Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that cares for the tiniest and sickest newborns, the region’s only Level 1 trauma center and Kentucky’s top hospital ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

As an academic research institution, we are continuously pursuing the next generation of cures, treatments, protocols and policies. Our discoveries have the potential to change what’s medically possible within our lifetimes. Our educators and thought leaders are transforming the health care landscape as our six health professions colleges teach the next generation of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals, spreading the highest standards of care. UK HealthCare is the power of advanced medicine committed to creating a healthier Kentucky, now and for generations to come. 

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