Where Are The Women Surgeons?
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Student Life

Where Are The Women Surgeons?

I'm talking about you, Meredith Grey.

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Where Are The Women Surgeons?
Huffington Post

Every time I mention that I’m pre-med to someone, the first question that always logically follows that is “What kind of doctor do you want to be?” Only two years into college now, it’s understandable that my answer is always changing. I’ve responded with neurology, anesthesiology, gynecology, endocrinology, cardiology, dermatology, ophthalmology… I might as well just add zoology and geology at this point. But never in my life have I ever said that I wanted to pursue surgery.

I thought about this phenomenon and why I was so deterred to ever share a liking for the surgical field. I have the utmost admiration for surgery, especially after reading Dr. Gawande, Dr. Youn and of all these other great surgeons of our time. It’s a difficult field. It’s respectable. It’s the epitome of the medical field. And yet, I can’t utter the words that I even like the field.

I realized this past summer that without even realizing it, my mind was wired to believe that women and surgery don't mix. Something about the dynamic of medicine or the countless discussions I’ve had with doctors or medical students has completely psychologically shaped me to not view surgeons as women. All the books or articles I’ve come across by surgeons are always by men. The only time I’ve ever seen female surgeons is in "Grey’s Anatomy," and well… That’s it.

Now, I understand that this is a personal perception and there is much more to this reality. There are women surgeons. They do exist. Many of them are successful and extraordinarily hard-working. But, surgery is a very male-dominated field. According to Stanford University, while 33 percent of men choose to pursue surgery in medical school, only 14 percent of women choose to do so. For many reasons, this makes some degree of logical sense -- the lifestyle is worse, many women want to have children and have a family, the pay isn’t equal, the treatment isn’t equal, there are many barriers for women in the surgical field. When I brought up the topic to other doctors, both men and women agreed surgery for women not good for “looks” and the lifestyle is grueling. The journey is very long, arduous, and physically and emotionally taxing. The pressures on a female surgeon to be both a “woman” and a “surgeon” are unreal.

Yet, despite the obstacles that women do face when deciding to pursue surgery, I was primarily bothered by the fact that I never even considered women to be in the equation at all. Never have I been told to pursue it. Never have I been described its rewards. There’s just too much of a stereotype that men should be surgeons.

And with all that, such is the dynamic of medicine. Medicine is constantly changing. The treatment and pay that women face in medicine is slowly but surely working towards full equality. Like I said, I don’t know what I’m going to pursue as a doctor, but I do hope that when I’m in medical school and we are all choosing our fate that I see more Meredith Grey’s and Christina Yang’s, and that I don't feel deterred to choose what passion comes my way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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