A solution to gender inequity in surgery? Better caregiving policies

A solution to gender inequity in surgery? Better caregiving policies

Can J Surg 2018;61(1):6-7 | PDF

Anita Acai, MSc; Chris Steyn, MD; Susan E. Reid, MD; Ranil R. Sonnadara, PhD


Attitudes toward women in surgery appear to be shifting in a positive direction. Why, then, do women still represent only 27% of surgeons in Canada? The answer may, at least in part, lie in the field’s inability to adequately accommodate caregiving duties, which are still disproportionately “women’s responsibilities” in our society. Although most Canadian academic centres now have paid maternity leave policies for trainees and faculty, these do not necessarily apply to surgeons working in the community, nor do they always reflect what occurs in practice. The perceived inability of the field to accommodate both personal and professional duties is often a significant deterrent to young women considering a career in surgery. In this commentary, we explore the need to address the “caregiver problem” as an important step toward achieving gender equity in surgery.

Accepted Oct. 20, 2017

See the related review paper by Peel and colleagues

Acknowledgements: The authors thank Victoria McKinnon, Portia Kalun, Jacqueline Wilcox, Sabahat Balaban and Cindy Tran for their editorial feedback on this work.

Affiliations: From the Office of Education Science, Department of Surgery, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont. (Acai, Steyn, Reid, Sonnadara); and the Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont. (Sonnadara).

Competing interests: None declared.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article and approved the final version for publication.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.010717

Correspondence to: R.R. Sonnadara, A.N. Bourns Science Building, Room 131, 1280 Main St West, Hamilton ON L8S 4M1; info@skillslab.ca