However, 72.7% of women students report believing the discouragement was tied to their gender, while just 1.5% of male respondents said the same.
"Discouragement from faculty at the pre-med and student level definitely has an impact," Dr. Susan Pories, the study's coauthor, told Reuters. "We owe it to medical students to empower them to pursue fields based on their passions, and to patients to have a body of surgeons that reflects population diversity."
Women remain underrepresented in medicine as a whole, but the gap in surgery is especially wide. According to the Association of Women Surgeons, females account for about 19% of working surgeons.
“By discouraging individuals, particularly minorities, from entering the field, we do both a disservice,” Pories said. “The reality is, women are successful in all surgical specialties (while still) achieving work-life balance.”
The study’s authors acknowledge that while surgical careers come with a number of unique demands, they also can bring prestige and other professional benefits.
“Additional support within the surgical field is needed to mitigate these concerns and support trainees in both their career and familial aspirations,” the report concludes.