Male Culture May Deter Women from a Career in Surgery

Surgery - a man's world?
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Debra A. Gargiulo, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Vermont, Burlington, surveyed 298 Vermont physicians and medical students. Of the 141 who completed the survey, there were 90 women and 60 men, including 31 attending physicians, 16 residents and 94 medical students. Sixty-four percent of men and 53 percent of women indicated that they were interested in a surgery career before their surgical rotation. Respondents were asked to select their top three deterrents to a surgical career.

The findings show that 46.7 percent of female medical students versus 20.4 percent of males perceived sex discrimination in surgery. Among all respondents, 21.6 percent of men and 4.4 percent of women were deterred by the diminishing rewards of surgery. 49 percent of men and 28 percent of women cited workload considerations. 66.7 percent of men versus 47.8 percent of women chose family concerns. 83.3 percent of women and 76.5 percent of men worried about lifestyle during residency. 40 percent of women and 21.6 percent of men were deterred by their view of the "surgical personality" and: 22.2 percent of women and 3.9 percent of men were discouraged by the perception of surgery as an "old boys' club".

The results suggest that lifestyle concerns should be addressed to attract both men and women to surgery, the authors write. "However, our results also suggest that there exists a male culture in surgery that needs to be confronted because it is a significant factor deterring women from a career in surgery. Surgery remains a 'macho field'," they conclude. "Surgeons need to critically assess the nature of their interactions with students and provide an environment more conducive to women."; Source: JAMA and Archives Journals