Discrimination Toward Women in Surgery: A Systematic Scoping Review

Ann Surg. 2022 Jul 1;276(1):1-8. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000005435. Epub 2022 Mar 10.


Background: Over the past twenty years explicit gender bias toward women in surgery has been replaced by more subtle barriers, which represent indirect forms of discrimination and prevents equality.

Objective: The aim of our scoping review is to summarize the different forms of discrimination toward women in surgery.

Methods: The database search consisted of original studies regarding discrimination toward female surgeons.

Results: Of 3615 studies meeting research criteria, 63 were included. Of these articles, 11 (18%) were focused on gender-based discrimination, 14 (22%) on discrimination in authorship, research productivity, and research funding, 21 (33%) on discrimination in academic surgery, 7 (11%) on discrimination in surgical leadership positions and 10 (16%) on discrimination during conferences and in surgical societies. The majority (n = 53, 84%) of the included studies were conducted in the U.S.A. According to our analysis, female surgeons experience discrimination from male colleagues, healthcare workers, but also from patients and trainees. Possible solutions may include acknowledgment of the problem, increased education of diversity and integration for the younger generations, mentorship, coaching, and more active engagement by male and female partners to support women in the surgical field.

Conclusions: Gender-based discrimination toward women in the field of surgery has evolved over the past twenty years, from an explicit to a more subtle attitude. A work-environment where diversity and flexibility are valued would allow female surgeons to better realize their full potential.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Authorship
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Physicians, Women*
  • Sexism
  • Surgeons*