Why are women deterred from general surgery training?

Am J Surg. 2005 Jul;190(1):141-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2005.04.008.


Background: This study explored the factors contributing to the low application rates to general surgery (GS) residency by female students and compared perceptions of GS between students and female surgeons.

Methods: We distributed surveys to final-year students at 4 medical schools and nationwide to every female general surgeon in Canada.

Results: Of students who were deterred from GS, women were less likely than men to meet a same-sex GS role model and more likely to experience gender-based discrimination during their GS rotation (P < .05). Female students had the perception that GS was incompatible with a rewarding family life, happy marriage, or having children, whereas female surgeons were far more positive about their career choice.

Conclusions: Both real and perceived barriers may deter women from a career in GS. Real barriers include sex-based discrimination and a lack of female role models in GS. There are also clear differences in perception between students and surgeons regarding family and lifestyle in GS that must be addressed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Career Choice*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / trends
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / trends
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialties, Surgical* / education
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Workforce