Spotlight on Female Surgeons
The April 2017 issue of the New Yorker Magazine featured an animated cover image by Malika Favre featuring female surgeons in the operating theatre wearing their blue scrubs.
The overwhelming response to this artist-created image was, “Yes female surgeons are out there!” and this sparked a welcome host of real shots on Instagram of female surgeons around the world recreating the cover.
Increasing Visibility of Women in Surgery
The original artwork touched a nerve and also really helped to highlight the true visibility of women in medicine and surgery specifically. The hashtag challenge spread, with female surgeons posting images of themselves in Brazil, Mexico, the U.K, and Turkey.
Similarly, in this article, we want to put the spotlight on female surgeons and the many achievements of women in surgery.
Women in Surgery in Australia
Unfortunately there is a gender bias in surgery as a career and a gender inequality. This is what made the Malika Favre image so noteworthy – that all-female surgical teams are not as commonplace as they should be, given the numbers of highly talented female medical graduates.
According to the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, half of medical graduates are female yet there is an under-representation of women in surgery, where only 5% of surgeons are female.
The RACS is committed to attracting the brightest and best female medical graduates to surgery and encourages and supports this goal by:
- Giving support and guidance to female medical graduates who are considering surgery as a specialism
- Addressing gender discrimination and issues faced by young surgeons in training
- Developing policies and guidelines that support female surgeons
- Removing barriers and increasing visibility of women in surgery.
Encouragement and Opportunities
Some of the issues that the college’s Women in Surgery (WIS) committee addresses are simply issues that do not create barriers to the profession for male surgeons.
Those include flexible surgical training (consider if you are a mother and a primary caregiver to children – the number of hours and rigid training roster will present issues for you and very well may exclude you), visibility of other female surgeons and mentorship from them via the Annual Scientific Congress (ASC) (seeing that the glass ceiling can be smashed is encouraging and in order to step into the footsteps of others, one must see what is possible!), and generally expanding opportunities across the surgical training world for women.
Raising Awareness of Women in Medicine
Cover images like the one from the New Yorker help to shine a light on the issue of women in surgery.
You can help support surgeons that offer greater representation for women in surgery and read some of the articles from the RACS to understand what more can be done to balance in inequality, starting with more visibility at conferences, in articles and on the internet.
Breakdown the Barriers
Dr. Ruth Bollard, Chair of the Women in Surgery Committee of the RACS demonstrates that:
- Improving the proportion of female speakers at conferences can help to encourage more women to pursue research and surgery
- Sensitivity to the needs for childcare facilities in professional and training environments for women in surgery and medicine (as well as at conferences) also helps to increase the numbers of women.
Support Female Surgeons
Support Female Surgeons like Dr Rebecca Wyten and encourage your clinic to do the same! Was your surgery done by a female surgeon? Would you like to see your surgeon speak at a conference, attend a conference and support the research of your surgeon? If so, speak up and ask them how you can lend your support and increase visibility of women in surgery!
Dr Rebecca Wyten is a dedicated surgeon located in Melbourne, Victoria. Dr Wyten has undertaken many humanitarian trips overseas during the last 10 years. Recently returning from Nepal where she practised burn surgery through the organisation Open Heart International.
Please Consult your Plastic & Cosmetic Surgeon for Further Advice Today.
Each individual’s situation is different. What options are best for you, should be best discussed during a consult with Dr Rebecca Wyten.
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