Women surgeons face more gender bias

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Women surgeons working at university medical centers say they’ve faced more gender discrimination as staff surgeons than they did as medical students or residents, according to a new study in Canada.

But the women surgeons still rated their career satisfaction highly, researchers found. Surgery generally is a challenging career, and socalled academic surgery (i.e., at university hospitals) carries specific pressures and expectations, said Dr Natashia M Seemann.

Even in non-surgical specialties where more than half the faculty is female, like paediatrics, women are not represented proportionately in leadership positions, she said.

Though the number of women in surgery is steadily increasing, they still account for only 22% of full-time faculty and 1% of chairs of surgery.

Seemann and her team invited 212 women in surgery for the study. More than half of the women said their gender had played a role in career challenges, and while some had experienced gender discrimination in medical school, residency or fellowship, the highest percentage, 41%, said they experienced this discrimination as full-fledged staff surgeons.

Gender discrimination in today’s surgical world is subtle, Seemann said. “Female medical students are told much more often than male medical students to consider a career other than surgery because it’s not compatible with family life,” she said.