It’s something we probably didn’t need a study to tell us: There are still many, many more male surgeons than female ones.
A report by Sarah McLain, a final year medical student at the University of Sydney, has found that females make up 50 per cent of all medical graduates in Australia, but only 34 per cent of specialists and 12 per cent of surgeons.
In orthopaedics, just 4 per cent of of surgeons are female.
Wagga’s Kerin Fielding became the first female orthopaedic surgeon in NSW and only the third in Australia in 1992.
Associate Professor Fielding, along with Kate FitzGerald, a new breast surgery specialist at Griffith, will tell you that things are changing, but slowly.
Both believe one of the keys to closing the gender gap is providing inspiration and role models to young women.
Dr FitzGerald believes this actually needs to start as early as secondary school.
Professor Fielding and Dr FitzGerald this week told The Daily Advertiser they became interested in the field of medicine while still children, and were always keen on hobbies that let them use their hands.
Perhaps that little insight from the two surgeons could be a clue to identifying the young women who could be the next generation of surgeons.
Those youngsters – both female and male – who are keen on craft activities should perhaps be steered not into an art room, but into a science lab.
We are still too quick to try to apply labels to children. They don’t have to be crafty, sporty or academic.
A talent for “craft” or drawing could indicate someone with a burgeoning interest in anatomy as much as in life drawing or engineering.
The key – and it’s hardly a revelation – still seems to be about opening children’s eyes to the world of possibilities ahead of them and to provide teachers and role models they can identify with.
In the same way that we need men to challenge the stereotype and become primary school teachers, we need women to keep forging ahead in medicine and science.
Enjoy the week ahead, Ross.