There are still challenges in gender equity in all areas of medicine. A recent study published in December 2022 in JAMA Surgery (doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2022.6431) examined how practicing male and female surgeons reacted to gender issues over five qualitative and quantitative domains: career aspirations, gender-based discrimination, mentor-mentee relationships, perceived barriers, and recommendations for system change.
Randomly selected U.S.-based Fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS), as well as female members of the Association of Women Surgeons (AWS), were surveyed between January and June 2020. Respondents self-reported their gender. A total of 2,860 of 7,500 male FACS, 1,070 of 2,500 female FACS, and 536 female AWS members responded.
There were few demographic differences between the groups, although researchers found that female FACS were less likely to be married and to have children. Female AWS members were more likely to be younger and hold more graduate degrees than female FACS.
In the professional setting, FACS of both genders noted that they had dealt with positive and negative gender situations, including gender-based harassment, discrimination, and blame. Female FACS were less likely to have mentors of the same gender and were more likely to emphasize gender’s importance when choosing mentors and determining their career path.
For the future, female FACS believed that avoiding competition among female surgeons is important and hoped that male FACS would acknowledge gender bias and admit any potential role in promoting bias. Male FACS encouraged male and female surgeons alike to treat everyone the same.