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Surgery. 2003 Oct;134(4):591-6; discussion 596-8.

Are there gender differences in choosing a surgical career?

Author information

  • 1Department of General Surgery, Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, 1653 West Congress Parkway, Chicago, IL 60612, USA.



Interest in general surgery has declined among US medical students, with the increasing number of female medical students being cited as a causative factor. This study evaluates factors related to choosing a general surgery career and determines if they differ between men and women.


A survey assessing factors that contributed to career choice was distributed to a 2002 graduating medical school class to be returned with their match lists. Students were asked, from a given list, which factors influenced their career choice. Those students who did not pursue a career in general surgery were asked what factors contributed to that decision. The results were stratified by gender.


Of 120 surveys, 54 women and 48 men responded (response rate=85%). The reason most commonly cited for a particular career choice by both men and women was the intellectual challenge of the field, chosen by 41 men (85%) and 46 women (85%). The two next most common reasons cited by male students were an elective in the field and practice lifestyle (40 of 48 respondents, or 82%, for each). Practice lifestyle was a contributing factor for 37 of the 54 women, or 69% (P=.132). The other reasons most commonly cited by women were an elective and faculty in the chosen field (46 of 54, or 85%, and 38 of 54, or 70%). Thirty-seven of the 48 men, or 77% (P=.588), felt that faculty in the field contributed to their career choice. The most commonly cited reasons for not choosing general surgery--residency lifestyle, practice lifestyle, and length of training--were the same for both groups.


Fewer women than men considered practice lifestyle in choosing their medical career. However, both men and women considered lifestyle, elective in the field of choice, and faculty important in career choice. In 2002, men and women had the same reasons for pursuing a career in general surgery or seeking another specialty.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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