Two top female surgeons in England have called for a cultural change in surgical departments, contending that a “boys’ club” culture helps account for a lack of female surgeons in the field. The number of women in surgery in the UK has been increasing yearly, but women still only account for only 11 percent of all surgeons in England. In a 2013 survey of newly qualified UK doctors, 68 percent of the female respondents considered surgery an unwelcoming career for women. Jyoti Shah, a consultant urological surgeon at Burton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and editor of the magazine Medical Woman, advocates bringing to light how misogynistic behavior impacts female colleagues, through means such as discussion groups. Clare Marx, the first female president of the Royal College of Surgeons, advocates a more passive approach: “We can’t tell people to change their culture, what we have to do is grow the numbers and show the way we can change the culture from within rather than dictating. Laying down rules doesn’t work.” If England hopes to attract top surgical candidates regardless of gender, one way or another the change will have to come.
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