Female surgeons still endure toxic culture

Female surgeons still endure toxic culture of abuse and discrimination at work: Female surgeons are still enduring widespread discrimination by male colleagues while they work, including abuse and even humiliation, according to a new study of over 300 surgeons across Europe.

  • 72% of female surgeons surveyed have suffered or witnessed gender abuse
  • Over half have been personally attacked or humiliated at work
  • Just 17% of male surgeons say they have witnessed gender discrimination at work

Female surgeons are still enduring widespread discrimination by male colleagues while they work, including abuse and even humiliation, according to a new study of over 300 surgeons across Europe.

The results tally with a long-standing trend of unfair and damaging treatment towards women in surgery.

Some 72% of female surgeons have witnessed or suffered gender inequality at work. Over half (56%) have endured personal attacks, a toxic work environment or even humiliating comments by colleagues.

In response to the study, the European Society of Coloproctology (ESCP) has launched its ‘Operation Equal Access’ campaign. The campaign aims to expose and explore how a range of inequalities across the medical sector are impacting wellbeing, patient care and career progression.

Dr Franco Marinello, consultant colorectal surgeon at the Vall d’Hebron University Hospital in Barcelona, said: “This study is a wake-up call. Discrimination in surgery continues to be an unresolved issue in many countries. We simply cannot accept unfair treatment any longer. We hope this new research highlights the struggles facing female surgeons and urge healthcare leaders across the globe to take action.”

The data also reveals that nearly half (44%) of both male and female surgeons feel their work institution or employer does not guarantee respect in gender equality, sexual orientation or race diversity, with almost two in three (64%) women not feeling adequately protected by their employer.

Race and religious discrimination remains an issue for one in 10 (12%) surgeons. And those who have suffered racial or religious discrimination are particularly likely to observe a negative impact on their chances of receiving a promotion (39%) or to develop surgical techniques (27%).

Vittoria Bellato, ESCP member, adds: “When speaking to colleagues about measures in place to counter inequality in medicine, we found the measures in place are specific to a single hospital unit, and not representative of a national framework.

“Our campaign aims to help fill a gap in the data, initiate a proactive conversation among surgeons on this issue, and prompt positive change as a result of this exchange of information and ideas.”


About the ESCP

ESCP (European Society of Coloproctology) is dedicated to promoting and advancing the science, knowledge and practice of coloproctology in Europe. The professional organisation works to prevent treat colorectal disease through education, training and research.

It is a not-for-profit membership organisation, with an elected Council and Board of Trustees.

www.escp.eu.com

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