Perception of gender discrimination among spine surgeons across Latin America: A web-based survey

Asdrubal Falavigna, Miguel Bertelli Ramos, Frederico Arriaga Criscuoli de Farias, João Pedro Einsfeld Britz, Carolina Matté Dagostini, Bruna Caroline Orlandin, Leandro Luis Corso, Samantha L. Morello, Amy S. Kapatkin, Tatjana Topalovic, Matthew Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND CONTEXT: Female physicians rarely choose spine surgery as their specialty. Although the specialty's nature and its associated lifestyle are potential barriers, gender-related issues may play an important part. PURPOSE: To evaluate the gender discrimination among spine surgeons across Latin America. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. PATIENT SAMPLE: The participants in this study were 223 AO Spine Latin America (AOSLA) registered members who answered the web-based survey. OUTCOME MEASURES: Personal and professional demographics; gender-related objective and subjective experiences regarding career and personal life. METHODS: A survey link containing a 24-item questionnaire was sent to the members’ e-mails in September 2019. The survey was designed to evaluate the perception of gender discrimination by spine surgeons during their academic and professional lives. RESULTS: Out of 223 members who answered the survey, 196 (87.96%) were male and 27 (12.11%) female. Most were orthopedic surgeons (64.13%), ≥40 years of age (55.16%), and had <20 years of experience (69.95%). Gender discrimination was more frequent among women than among men (66.67% vs. 1.02%), as did discouragement from becoming a spine surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, or neurosurgeon (81.48% vs. 0.51%). Females reported higher rates of sexual harassment (44.44% vs. 7.65%) and more often felt disadvantaged because of gender (55.56% vs. 2.55%). Working harder than men to achieve the same prestige and lack of female mentorship were the most common obstacles reported by women (55.56%). Residency/fellowship influenced the decision to postpone/avoid having children for 66.67% of women but only 37.75% of men. Creation of a Women's Committee in AO Spine was supported by 74.07% of women and 38.78% of men. CONCLUSIONS: Gender-based discrimination affects women more frequently than men in spine surgery. These experiences likely contribute to the low prevalence of female spine surgeons. Efforts to mitigate bias and support the professional development of women in neurosurgery, orthopedics and spine communities are encouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSpine Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Feminism
  • Neurosurgery
  • Orthopedics
  • Questionnaire
  • Sexism
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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