Why Do Women Leave Male-dominated Professions?

Concerns about childcare are an often cited reason for women to leave (or never enter) male-dominated fields such as surgery – and these concerns need to be addressed. However, a recent study by Nadya Fouad suggests that childcare concerns might not be the main culprit that drives women away.

In her survey with women who held engineering degrees the author found that most women who had left engineering had not done so in order to stay at home and raise a family but had rather left the industry to work someplace else. Moreover, the reason these women cited were very similar to those that men usually cite for leaving their jobs – inhospitable work climate and a lack of opportunities for career advancement (although caregiving responsibilities were also an often cited reason).

This demonstrates once again that leaving certain occupations is not due to some inherent lack of interest among women. On the contrary, women and men are looking for quite similar things in their careers – but men might just have an easier time achieving these goals in male-dominated fields.

Inspiring Girls to Go Into “Masculine” Fields

Surgery is not the only discipline struggling to increase its number of women and while there are certainly differences in the reasons why girls lack interest in surgery compared to other disciplines such as engineering or physics, we can still learn from successful attempts to recruit more women into areas in which they are under-represented.

Robogals is an organisation that aims at increasing the number of women in engineering by showing young girls what engineering actually is and why it is fun. In her short and inspiring Tedx talk, Robogals founder Marita Cheng talks about how to spark interest in young minds – something that surgery could certainly benefit from as well.

Click here to check out her talk.