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.