Women in Orthopaedics: A Perspective from Malaysian Female Orthopaedic Surgeons
Introduction: The awareness of under-representation of female surgeons in orthopaedics has been increasing in this decade. We aim to investigate the reasons why female surgeons chose orthopaedic, the barriers that possibly hinder female surgeons into orthopaedics and analyse the obstacles that they encountered in their career in Malaysian context.
Materials and methods: A total of 101 registered female orthopaedic surgeons registered with the Malaysian Medical Council, during the period 1980 to 2020, were contacted for a cross-sectional survey, consisting of thirty-four questions on their experience in the orthopaedic career. Eighty-two responses were received (81.2%). Questions in this survey consisted of four sections: (1) demographic details, (2) current clinical practice environment, (3) orthopaedics training experience, and (4) career experience.
Results: A total of 49% of respondents had subspeciality training, highest in paediatric orthopaedic (30%). Enjoyment of manual tasks (64.6%) and professional satisfaction (64.6%) were the top reasons for choosing orthopaedic as a career. Primary barriers to orthopaedic were physical strength required (56.0%) and public gender bias (52.4%). Twenty-eight percent reported gender discrimination in career opportunities while 60% reported similar in daily work. Thirty-three percent reported verbal and 11% physical sexual harassment in their career. Forty-four percent of respondents reported benefits as female orthopaedic surgeon in their work.
Conclusion: The reasons for Malaysian female orthopaedic surgeons to choose orthopaedic as their career and the barriers perceived to hinder other females from choosing orthopaedics were similar to reports worldwide with no exception to gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The support given by male colleagues to married female surgeons marked a unique phenomenon in Malaysian culture.
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