Women say they are warned against surgical careers because of gender

Women say they are warned against surgical careers because of gender
An all black female operating theatre. PHOTO| COURTESY

More women have been warned against entering the field of surgery reportedly because of gender.

According to Reuters Health, some of the 720 students from Harvard Medical School who were surveyed cited gender bias.

“Despite an equal number of men and women in medical school, fewer than 25% of surgeons are women,” said Dr. Faith Robertson, a neurosurgery resident at Massachusetts General Hospital who coauthored the report.

“Our study was important to understand why gender ratios change between medical school and practice.”

72.7% of female respondents said they were discouraged because of their desire to have a family.

Only 1.5 % of men surveyed responded the same, the report in the Annals of Surgery journal said.

29% of women reported age-based discouragement, compared to 1.5% of the men.

Students generally decide which field to major in  during the latter half of medical school.

They do this when they complete medical and surgical rotations and will often speak to peers, mentors and family members.

“We had zero female surgeons, and this was at a relatively large hospital in a state capital. There were plenty of women in primary care, but I wanted a female surgeon who had made it, who could tell me that I could balance a life and an academic surgical career,” said Dr. Carmen Fong, a colorectal surgeon at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City.

The authors say that their study at a private, urban institution may not reflect the situation at other universities, but they believe it calls for systemic change, including policies about maternity and paternity leave.

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