echoed that through mentorship, they have learned how
many women surgeons have found individual solutions
to accommodate irregular hours, on-call duties, and so
on with pregnancy and child care. Those women surgeons with strong mentors have learned how to focus on
making the most of their time away from work. “Personal
health, entertainment, hobbies can all be accommodated
into a busy career, and we are fortunate that our financial
positions are quite healthy compared to many others. Do
we need to defer some activities at times? Of course, but
on balance I think I have seen more and more surgeons
place appropriate and substantial effort into their activities outside of work—a very positive trend for women and
men in the next generation of surgeons,” Dr. Bass noted.
Successfully encouraging women medical students to
choose surgical careers may be achieved by the following:
•Continuing to foster an atmosphere in surgical training
programs that is more accepting of the competing demands
that trainees and attendings face with respect to balancing
work and personal obligations regardless of gender
•Acknowledging that women face unique challenges but
that creating a fulfilling harmony between work and personal life is a universal issue that is not gender-specific
•Fostering strong mentorship programs for women inter-
ested in surgery
As one student noted, “Without mentorship, I likely
would not have had the inclination or desire to pursue
a career in a surgical subspecialty.” To combat this feel-
ing, Dr. Bass urges women to “hear the full story from
Despite initial discouragement, all applicants shared a
remarkable motivation and dedication to a surgical career
as a calling. Our current task is to guarantee that women
have equity in both opportunity and guidance as they shape
their career choices. ♦
1. Wirtzfeld DA. The history of women in surgery. Can J
Surg. 2009; 52( 4):317-320.
2. Washington University School of Medicine. Bernard
Becker Medical Library Digital Collection. The path
to medical coeducation in the United States. Available
medcoedus.htm. Accessed September 27, 2016.
3. Association of American Medical Colleges. The State
of Women in Academic Medicine: The Pipeline and
Pathways to Leadership 2013–2014. Available at:
2013-2014%20FINAL.pdf. Accessed September 27,
4. Rehman A, Rahman NG, Harris SM, Cheema FH.
Mary Edwards Walker: The soul ahead of her time.
JAMA Surg. 2015;150( 2):173-174.
5. Hoyt DB. Looking forward. Bull Am Coll Surg.
2015;100( 7): 7-9. Available at: bulletin.facs.org/2015/07/
looking-forward-july-2015/. Accessed September 27,
6. Abelson JS, Chartrand G, Moo TA, Moore M, Yeo
H. The climb to break the glass ceiling in surgery:
Trends in women progressing from medical school to
surgical training and academic leadership from 1994
to 2015. Am J Surg. 2016;212( 4):566-672. Available at:
9610( 16)30350-6/abstract. Accessed October 6, 2016.
7. Hofler LG, Hacker MR, Dodge LE, et al. Comparison
of women in department leadership in obstetrics and
gynecology with those in other specialties. Obstet
Gynecol. 2016;127( 3):442-447.
Another student wrote that while she learned something
from every surgeon with whom she interacted, working
with women surgeons—watching them scrub into
cases she could lead one day—was empowering.