Although the past decades have seen a steady increase of women in medicine in general, women continue to represent a minority of the physician-training staff and workforce in neurosurgery in Canada and worldwide. As such, the aim of this study was to analyze the experiences of women faculty practicing neurosurgery across Canada to better understand and address the factors contributing to this disparity.
A historical, cross-sectional, and mixed-method analysis of survey responses was performed using survey results obtained from women attending neurosurgeons across Canada. A web-based survey platform was utilized to collect responses. Quantitative analyses were performed on the responses from the study questionnaire, including summary and comparative statistics. Qualitative analyses of free-text responses were performed using axial and open coding.
A total of 19 of 31 respondents (61.3%) completed the survey. Positive enabling factors for career success included supportive colleagues and work environment (52.6%); academic accomplishments, including publications and advanced degrees (36.8%); and advanced fellowship training (47.4%). Perceived barriers reported included inequalities with regard to career advancement opportunities (57.8%), conflicting professional and personal interests (57.8%), and lack of mentorship (36.8%). Quantitative analyses demonstrated emerging themes of an increased need for women mentors as well as support and recognition of the contributions to career advancement of personal and family-related factors.
This study represents, to the authors’ knowledge, the first analysis of factors influencing career success and satisfaction in women neurosurgeons across Canada. This study highlights several key factors contributing to the low representation of women in neurosurgery and identifies specific actionable items that can be addressed by training programs and institutions. In particular, female mentorship, opportunities for career advancement, and increased recognition and integration of personal and professional roles were highlighted as areas for future intervention. These findings will provide a framework for addressing these factors and improving the recruitment and retention of females in this specialty.