Women in surgery: A systematic review of 25 years

Charleen Singh, Caitlin Loseth, Noordeen Shoqirat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The number of women entering medicine significantly increased over the last decades. Currently, over half of the medical students are women but less than half are applying to surgery and even less go on to surgical specialties. Even fewer women are seen in leadership roles throughout the profession of surgery and surgical residency. Our purpose of the literature review is to identify any themes, which would provide insight to the current phenomenon. We used the Preferred Reporting Items for Systemic Reviews and Meta-Analyses method for a systematic review of the literature over a 20-year period (1998-2018). Five broad themes were identified: education and recruitment, career development, impact of/on life around the globe and surgical subspecialties as areas of barriers for women entering or considering surgery. The systematic review suggests there are opportunities to improve and encourage women entering the profession of surgery as well as the quality of life for surgeons. Creating systems for mentorship across programmes, having policies to support work-life balance and recognising surgical training overlaps with childbearing years are key opportunities for improvement. Improving the current status in surgery will require direction from leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000199
JournalBMJ Leader
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Strategy and Management
  • Leadership and Management


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