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Half Of Female Surgeons ‘Experience Workplace Discrimination’

February 11th, 2019

New research has revealed that more than half of female surgeons in this country have experienced discrimination in the workplace, with less than one-third choosing a surgical career despite women making up more than half of medical school entrants in the UK.

The study, published in the BMJ Open journal, also found that orthopaedics was considered to be the most sexist of all the surgical specialities, with 88 per cent of survey respondents saying they feel that surgery is still a male-dominated industry.

Half of those asked agreed that childcare commitments and motherhoods are the biggest obstacles for any woman keen on pursuing a career in surgery and although there is support for mothers working in such jobs, women are “presumed to deskill during maternity leave and are discouraged from working part-time”, the researchers observed.

Interestingly, respondents also felt that patients could often be guilty of assuming that women couldn’t be surgeons, with one study participant saying that “significantly more patients call me nurse or lady doctor than any of my colleagues”.

Some 30 per cent of those asked said that sexist language in the workplace should be challenged, while other suggestions for dealing with discrimination included more female mentors and role models, flexible training and career options, destigmatisation of career breaks for women and improved understanding of the impact that having children can have on working life.

Everyone is entitled to be treated fairly at work and in their jobs and if you feel that you have been treated unfairly or differently because of a personal characteristic, whether that’s gender, age, race, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs, then you may have been the victim of discrimination.

If you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against, you can complain directly to the person or organisation, use someone else to help you (known as mediation or alternative dispute resolution), or make a claim in a court or tribunal.

Employees should always try and talk to their employer first to try and manage the situation informally, but if this cannot be done you can always talk to a trade union representative, Acas or Citizens Advice.

From an employer’s perspective, it is against the law to treat someone less favourably than others because of a personal characteristic. Discrimination can include not hiring someone, selecting a particular person for redundancy or paying someone less than someone else without good reason.

People are protected from discrimination at work, in education, as a consumer, when using public services, as a member or guest of a private club or association and when buying or renting property, legally protected from discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.

If you would like to talk to one of our discrimination solicitors, get in touch with us today. Talk to us on 01494 773377 or email us at 


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