Surgery - Still an 'old boys' club'?

K. D. Lillemoe, G. M. Ahrendt, C. J. Yeo, H. F. Herlong, J. L. Cameron, K. Guice, M. T. Dayton, T. Stellato, C. S. Cocanour, L. Martin, Barbara L. Bass, J. M. Hassett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Background. Currently more than 40% of first-year medical students are female, yet less than 20% of those entering surgical residencies are women. It has been suggested that the surgical environment experienced during medical school clinical clerkships may be perceived as being unfavorable to female students, thus accounting for this disparity. Methods. One hundred and five medical students at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine responded to a questionnaire administered before graduation to assess career choice, the influence of a number of conditions on choice of specialty, the perception of a specialty's attitudes toward their gender, and the students' experiences during clinical rotations. Results. Thirty-four percent of men and 13% of women chose surgery or one of its subspecialties as their career (p < 0.01). Eighty-seven percent of women responding perceived a specialty as unfavorable toward their gender versus 21% of men (p < 0.0001). None of the men believed that surgery was unfavorable toward their gender, whereas 96% of these women believed that surgery was unfavorable (p < 0.00001). Fifty percent of women felt out of place on a clinical service, with 92% of these having this perception on a surgical service. Only 9% of men ever felt out of place on a clinical service (p < 0.0001), and none of the men felt out of place in surgery (p < 0.0001). Conclusions. Female medical students perceive a gender bias on surgical services, suggesting that an 'old boys' club' attitude may still exist in surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-261
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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