Ironically, the weaker doctor role that has been forced upon female practitioners turns out to be more effective both for treating patients and for pleasing them than the traditional posture of distant authority. We all can learn from this. Indeed, we must, for as our society becomes more equitable, the differences in men's and women's socialization are melting away.
Meanwhile, the key to minimizing the adverse effects of gender on the doctor/patient relationship lies in carefully sifting through what is real, what is personal, and what is culturally influenced. The first step is to gain a greater awareness of our own gender tendencies and biases. With such awareness, we will be far less likely to be caught in the web of gender discrimination.
The Tchambuli people whom Mead studied in Samoa are only one of several known societies in which female aggression is the norm. Another is described by Victoria Katherine Burbank in Fighting Women: Anger and Aggression in Aboriginal Australia ( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).