Wisconsin medical professionals might be interested in the results of a new Canadian study that shows that female surgeons employed at university medical centers affront more gender discrimination than they did when they were residents or medical students. However, overall, female surgeons report feeling highly satisfied with their careers.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto, sent surveys to 212 female surgeons working in academic surgical settings throughout Canada. Of 81 respondents, nearly half were in junior faculty positions. More than 50 percent of respondents said they had experienced gender-related discrimination at some point in their careers. While some reported gender issues while in medical school or residency programs, 41 percent, which was the highest percentage, said they faced gender-based discrimination after they had qualified as full staff surgeons.
According to the authors of the study, gender discrimination in the surgical field is often subtle. For example, female medical students are told that surgical careers are incompatible with family life much more often than their male peers. In other instances, patients ignore female surgeons during consultations and try to speak with their male interns. Female surgeons are also frequently misidentified as nurses by staff and patients.
Experts in surgical careers say the reason more female surgeons may feel discrimination after gaining full surgical privileges is because medical schools in the United States and Canada have built-in regulations to combat discrimination, and these safeguards disappear in the professional world. The authors of the study say that reduced workloads, flexible work schedules and more nondiscriminatory professional relationships would help reduce gender discrimination in the field.
Employment law is complex and subject to change. Wisconsin workers who want to learn more about their employment rights may benefit by scheduling a consultation with an attorney who is familiar with labor issues and the Fair Labor Standards Act.