Under the knife: female surgeons battle pregnancy stigma

Discrimination and lack of maternity leave may drive women from surgical careers

Women training for careers in surgery are more likely to abandon the profession when they experience pregnancy discrimination or have insufficient time for maternity leave, a study suggests.

Surgical trainees who perceived pregnancy discrimination were 79% more likely to say that, given a chance to revisit their choice, they would opt for a non-surgical career, the US survey found.

And when training programs lacked formal maternity leave arrangements, women were 83% more likely to consider leaving the profession than when leave policies were more supportive to new mothers.

Researchers surveyed 347 women who had given birth at least once while training to become a surgeon in the US. These women had a total of 452 pregnancies and were around 31 years old at the time of the survey.

Even though men and women enter medical school in roughly equal numbers, women represent just one-third of applicants in