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Gender and Specialty Influences on Personal and Professional Life Among Trainees

Rogers, Ailín C., MD, PhD*; Wren, Sherry M., MD, FACS; McNamara, Deborah A., MD, FRCSI (Gen)*,‡

doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000002580

Objective: This study aimed to determine the impact of surgical training on lifestyle and parenthood, and to assess for gender-based workplace issues.

Background: The effects of a surgical career on lifestyle are difficult to quantify and may vary between male and female doctors. A gender gap is present in the highest tiers of the profession, and reasons why women do not attain senior positions are complex but likely relate to factors beyond merit alone.

Methods: An anonymous Web-based survey was distributed to Irish surgical and nonsurgical trainees. They were asked questions regarding family planning, pregnancy outcomes, parenthood, and gender issues in the workplace, with results analyzed by sex and specialty.

Results: Four hundred sixty trainees responded with a response rate of 53.0%; almost two thirds were female. Female trainee surgeons were less likely to have children than their male counterparts (22.5% vs 40.0%, P = 0.0215). Pregnant surgical trainees were more likely to have adverse pregnancy events than the partners of their male contemporaries (65.0% vs 11.5%, P = 0.0002), or than their female nonsurgical colleagues (P = 0.0329). Women were more likely to feel that they had missed out on a job opportunity (P < 0.001) and that their fellowship choice was influenced by their gender (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The current study highlights some areas of difficulty encountered by female surgical trainees. Surmounting the barriers to progression for female surgeons, by addressing the perceived negative impacts of surgery on lifestyle, will likely encourage trainee retention of both genders.

*Department of Surgery, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA

Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland.

Reprints: Deborah A. McNamara, MD, FRCSI, Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon; Ailín C. Rogers, MD, PhD, Department of Surgery, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9, Ireland. E-mail:;

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

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