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An increasingly number of women have been enrolling in U.S. medical schools recently and the field of obstetrics-gynecology has become predominantly female, but the profession of general surgery still remains largely unequal between the two genders. There is an observable pattern of gender inequality in both of these specialties, which is a result of several different factors which affect all women regardless of their profession. I studied how the stark difference in the percentages of female surgeons versus the percentages of female obstetricians-gynecologists compared to men has been created due to the prescribed gender roles of women in society. I looked at articles in medical journals in the two individual specialties for articles dealing with the different factors, such as family, marriage, social trajectories, to existing stereotypes, that could influence a woman to choose a particular medical profession. I found that although more women have been enrolling in general surgery over the last couple of years, there is still a large difference in the number of women in general surgery and those in obstetrics-gynecology, due to certain factors which have not been publicly addressed. The decrease of women in general surgery has paralleled with an increase of women in obstetrics-gynecology in the same time span, due to the social factors that women are often forced to consider before entering a career field. Societal expectations about motherhood are often the main reason why women really venture into long, strenuous, and demanding careers like general surgery. However, there are other influences that women experience that deter them from general surgical training, such as the existing negative perceptions and stereotypes, gender-based discrimination, and the lack of motivation by same-sex mentors. Since there is a need to address the gender inequality in general surgery, actions need to be to be taken. Increasing the number of women in surgical faculty, providing flexibility with maternity leave, and adjusting rigorous residency curriculum are possible steps to help encourage women to pursue the career.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)



Gender Studies, Medicine, Women, Surgery, Inequality


Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Medical Humanities | Women's Studies

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Faye Prichard


© The Author(s)

Disproportion of Women in General Surgery and Obstetrics-Gynecology Professions