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Women-Physicians' Inroads Into Male Specialties (Surgery)

This study addresses the changes which occurred in the rate of women entering the subspecialty of surgery during the years 1995-2005, and the factors associated with this trend according to women-physicians' perceptions.
Data from Israel and abroad, supported by the theoretical literature, point to the fact that despite the increase in female participation in the labor force, women are still underrepresented in occupations which are traditionally male.  This situation encompasses medicine in general and certain subspecialties in particular which have been predominantly controlled by men throughout history.

The goal of this study is to present a precise picture of the changes which have occurred in the rate of female representation in surgery through a literature review examining the various factors which have brought about these changes, and by surveying female physicians who made these changes.

In this study we analyze two groups of factors expected to shed light on these issues. The first group comprises situational-organizational variables, including perceived male medical culture, lack of female role-models in surgery, and social discrimination/sexual harassment. The second group of factors comprises personal variables, including personal characteristics which lead a woman-physician to prefer the surgical sub-specialty, expected career/family conflict deriving from a career in surgery, and perception of surgery as presenting particular hardships.

Thirty female surgeons in hospitals were questioned by means of a closed questionnaire.    Twenty female internists were questioned as a control group. Questionnaires were mailed out in cooperation with the Medical Association.
Initial statistical tests followed by distributions, reliabilities, correlations and factor analyses are being performed.