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Ann Surg. Jul 1993; 218(1): 37–46.
PMCID: PMC1242898

Women surgeons. Results of the Canadian Population Study.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: A national survey of women surgeons in Canada was undertaken to evaluate their ability to combine career with personal and family life. SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA: Despite increasing numbers of women entering the medical profession, women continue to select nonsurgical careers. Although there are many reports regarding women in medical specialties there is little information available regarding women who choose surgical careers. Such data will be useful in increasing the enrollment of women in surgical training programs. METHODS: A 93-item questionnaire was mailed in July 1990 to the 459 eligible female surgeons. The survey was conducted using a modified Dillman 5-step computerized method. The study was closed in May 1991. RESULTS: Of the 459 surgeons who were located, 419 (91.3%) responded. Most surgeons (65.5%) were married. Only 6.5% were separated or divorced. The majority married another professional (91.4%). One quarter married another surgeon. Of all women who married at least once, 70.9% had at least one child. Most surgeons delayed child bearing until after they had completed their surgical training. The majority of respondents were in active surgical practice (82.3% full-time, 6.0% part-time). The most common surgical subspecialty was obstetrics and gynecology (40.9%), followed by ophthalmology (21.2%), and general surgery (12.1%). Surgeons were rarely dissatisfied (4-9%) with career, marriage, health, friendships, financial status, and hobbies. Overall, 88.3% were happy with their decision to pursue a career in surgery. CONCLUSIONS: Women surgeons practicing in Canada are able to combine productive careers with rewarding family lives and are satisfied with their decision to do so despite the compromises involved.

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