Career Satisfaction of Female and Male Surgeons

Despite the low number of women in surgery, those who do decide to become surgeons generally report high job satisfaction that does often not differ very much from that of their male counterparts. However, do they achieve their satisfaction in different ways? A study by Nasim Ahmadiyeh and colleagues investigates this issue.

They interviewed a sample of male and female surgeons who were all married and had children using semi-structured interviews and found, among other things, that men and women in surgery did indeed report similar levels of career satisfaction. In addition to that they also did not differ in the degree to which they had made trade-offs between their careers for their personal lives or vice versa. However, when talking about the reasons for their satisfaction and dissatisfaction, men and women differed. While male surgeons mostly named internal job characteristics as reasons for dissatisfaction, female surgeons spoke much more often about a lack of support and lack of credit. Furthermore, women also seem to rely on different strategies for success. They stressed the importance of social networks – professional as well as personal – far more than men did. This, of course, makes sense if they experience a lack of support.

These findings indicate that networking opportunities such as Women in Surgery are indeed very important and beneficial for female surgeons as they address the lack of support experienced by them.

Gender and Mentoring in Medicine

Mentoring is an often quoted path for career success in medicine and other careers alike and there are some studies that corraborate this idea. A study by Stamm and Buddenberg-Fischer investigates this notion in the field of medicine using a Swiss sample.

In their longitudinal study they examined the influence of mentoring during specialist training and found that, indeed, having a mentor and receiving psychosocial support from a mentor during this time was related to higher career success both in objective measures such as such as academic advancements and subjective measures, as well as career satisfaction. Receiving career support from a mentor on the other hand was related to subjective and objective career success, but not to career satisfaction. With regards to gender, about  60% of men but only about 41% of women reported having a mentor during their specialist training. The authors argue that these issues could and should be resolved by formal mentoring programs. Interestingly, however, their study indicates that gender of the mentor might not be as relevant. Women and men in their study did not differ with regards to the preferred gender of their mentor.