Females in surgery: fewer in number but academically equal.

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Abstract / Description of output

PURPOSE: Only 10% of surgeons on the specialist register are women. Despite gender parity at graduation, females make up only 30% of surgical trainees in the UK. A similar gender gap exists within the Edinburgh Surgical Sciences Qualification (ESSQ), a three-year, post-graduate distance-learning Masters program.
In response to a Gender Equality enquiry from our University, we examined whether gender influenced academic performance in the ESSQ.

METHODS: End-of-year results were collated for 817 students who enrolled on the ESSQ from 2007/08 to 2014/15. 146 students who withdrew were excluded from analysis. University records confirmed students’ gender. Each year group was analysed using SPSS for linear regression and Chi-square testing. Statistical significance was accepted at P<0.05.

RESULTS: Number of students completing each year: 647 Year 1; 428 Year 2; 285 Year 3. Over the nine-year period, the proportion of female students starting Year 1 has increased from 19% in 2007 to 37% in 2014 (P=0.046).
Mean mark in Year 1 was higher in males 60.1%(SD 11.88) than females 57.8%(SD 11.38) (P=0.046). Mean marks in subsequent years were marginally higher for males, but not statistically significant. (Fig1)
There were no gender differences in the proportion passing across all year groups (P>0.05). (Fig 2) In Year 1 more males (28%) achieved distinction than females (17%) (P=0.013). (Fig3)

CONCLUSIONS: This study has shown a sustained increase in female recruitment to the ESSQ with no differences in program completion between genders. Beyond Year 1, end-of-year performance did not demonstrate gender-based differences.

This study highlights female trainees are just as well equipped to tackle the academic challenges of surgical training as their male colleagues. Steps must be taken to close the gender gap in uptake of training posts so surgery does not lose valuable future female surgeons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S22
JournalMedical Science Educator
Early online date28 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016
EventInternational Association of Medical Science Educators Conference - Leiden, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Jun 20167 Jun 2016


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