San Diego, CA - On November 9, 2010, the Department of Surgery at UC San Diego Health System will launch a timely lecture series called “Women in Surgery.” Compared to other professions, surgery remains a largely male-dominated field. In order to raise awareness of gender equality, hiring opportunities, and device development, the Department of Surgery is offering an educational series for surgeons, instrument manufacturers, and the general public.
“Hospitals are beginning to realize that we need to be proactive about inspiring change among leadership in traditionally male fields such as surgery,” said Sonia Ramamoorthy, MD, associate professor of surgery at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. "One option is to wait until enough women populate the field so that a majority can effect change. A more bold option is to catalyze change through immediate dialogue."
The first lecture, called the "Women in Medicine & Technology Forum" is open to the public and will take place at the UCSD Faculty Club at 11:15 a.m. on November 9. Moderated by Anne Wallace, MD, professor of clinical surgery and director of the Breast Care Unit at Moores UCSD Cancer Center, the one-hour session will include talks by Barbara Bass, MD, FACS, chair of the Department of Surgery at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, and Kevin Lobo, Worldwide President of Ethicon Endo-Surgery.
Bass, who represents the minority of department chairs in the United States who are female, will offer a progress report on women in surgery. Bass holds the John F. and Carolyn Bookout Distinguished Endowed Chair for Surgery and is the executive director of MITIE™ - the Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education. Lobo will share findings from Ethicon Endo-Surgery’s own ethnographic studies that focus on the different needs of men and women in surgery. He will discuss how those differences are challenging the medical device industry to re-think product innovation designed specifically to support women in surgery and improve patient outcomes.
“The Department of Surgery is proud to sponsor and foster this critical initiative for women in medicine and surgery,” said Mark Talamini, MD, professor and chair of surgery at UC San Diego Health System. “Women now comprise at least half of our medical school classes and surgery residencies. The previous gender inequities in surgery will soon end. We must have the infrastructure, tools and mindset in place to support the emergence of women as leaders in surgery, on equal footing with men.”
Ramamoorthy's goal is to develop educational and scholarship programs that will improve the recruitment, retention and promotion of women in the fields of health, surgery and technology. By partnering with industry, Ramamoorthy and the Department of Surgery will work with companies to address tool design so that instrumentation is appropriately engineered for female hand sizes and grip strengths.
“More than 150 years after the first woman graduated from medical school, women account for only 12 percent of the country’s more than 26,000 actively practicing general surgeons, but they represent 50 percent of medical school classes and up to a third of general surgery applicants,” said Ramamoorthy. “Change may be slow but it is forthcoming.”