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Women May Feel Shut Out of Male 'Surgery Club'

Nearly half of female physicians and medical students perceive sex discrimination in surgical specialty

TUESDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- While both men and women entering medicine may forgo a career in surgery because of perceptions about the lifestyle and workload, women are specifically deterred because of the perception that surgical culture is male-oriented, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Surgery.

Debra A. Gargiulo, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Vermont in Burlington, used a questionnaire survey to ask 298 Vermont physicians and medical students about their top three deterrents to a surgical career.

Forty-seven percent of women and 20 percent of men felt there was sex discrimination in surgery. Both sexes felt there were certain deterrents to surgery, including diminishing rewards, workload considerations, family concerns and lifestyle during residency, but such factors were often weighed more heavily by women. In addition, women were more often deterred from surgery by their view of the surgical culture and because of its perception as an "old boys' club."

"Surgery remains a 'macho field,'" the authors conclude. "Surgeons need to critically assess the nature of their interactions with students and provide an environment more conducive to women."

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