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Female surgery residents face bias about pregnancy

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 5, 2012

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Despite the growing number of women in the medical profession, female surgeons who become pregnant during residency training face negative bias from faculty and peers, says an Archives of Surgery study published online Feb. 20.

Researchers analyzed survey responses from 1,937 female surgeon members of the Assn. of Women Surgeons and American College of Surgeons. They found that most women delayed pregnancy until they were in clinical practice, said the study (link).

More recent female medical school graduates were pregnant during training compared with those who had graduated 30 or more years ago. Seventy-six percent of respondents who graduated 30 or more years ago and 67% of those who graduated within the last nine years agreed that pregnancy during residency is stigmatized, and male residents and faculty were frequently cited as discouraging influences.

Such bias could affect the number of women choosing surgery as a career, the study said. Women made up 32.3% of general surgery residents in 2008. "Negative communication about the impact of pregnancy and childbirth by women residents or faculty serving as role models may deter students from choosing surgery as a career," the study said.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2012/03/05/prbf0305.htm.

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