Women in academic surgery: why is the playing field still not level?

Am J Surg. 2016 Feb;211(2):343-9. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2015.08.036. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Background: The purpose of this study was to explore career satisfaction and advancement for women in academic surgery.

Methods: A 48-item web-based survey was emailed to women surgeons in academic centers across Canada, exploring career advancement, family planning, mentorship, discrimination, and career satisfaction.

Results: The survey response rate was 38% (81 of 212); 18% of participants felt they experienced gender discrimination in medical school, 36% in residency, 12% in fellowship, and 41% as staff surgeons. More than half felt that their gender had played a role in the career challenges they faced. Responses to open-ended questions suggested that many surgeons struggled to balance their academic careers with family life. Despite this, participants rated their career satisfaction very highly.

Conclusions: There remain ongoing challenges for women in academic surgery including lack of gender equality, appropriate mentorship, and accommodations for surgeons with families. Continued advancement of women in academic surgery is dependent on addressing these concerns.

Keywords: Academic; Gender; Surgeons; Women.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Career Choice*
  • Career Mobility
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Job Satisfaction*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Women / psychology*
  • Sexism
  • Surgeons / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires