The number of female medical graduates and women in academic medicine is steadily increasing, contrary to the number of women in surgery and surgical subspecialties. This study is aimed at revealing the development of women in surgical and nonsurgical specialties in three different European countries.
The German registry of physicians, Austrian registry of physicians, and registry of the Swiss Medical Association were searched for the total number of female and male physicians. Data were retrieved from 2000 to 2010.
In the year 2000, the number of women practicing general surgery (Germany: n = 1922, 11.3 %; Austria: n = 107, 9.0 %; Switzerland: n = 46, 5.0 %), pediatric surgery (n = 67, 22.6 %; n = 8, 25.8 %; n = 11, 21.2 %), plastic and reconstructive surgery (n = 48, 18.4 %; n = 18, 18.8 %; n = 22, 20.0 %), or vascular surgery (n = 83, 10.0 %; n = 8, 5.0 %; n = 2, 5.7 %) was significantly lower compared with specialties known to be more appealing to women like anesthesiology (Germany: n = 6000, 40.5 %; Austria: n = 675, 42.1 %; Switzerland: n = 274, 34.3 %), dermatology (n = 2082, 45.0 %; n = 204, 40.8 %; n = 107, 37.3 %), or pediatrics (n = 5520, 49.3 %; n = 399, 42.8 %; n = 313, 36.1 %).
Comparing numbers from 2000 to 2010, all specialties except for anesthesiology in Germany and vascular surgery in Switzerland demonstrated increasing numbers of female physicians. Although the absolute number of female general surgeons in Switzerland tripled over the past decade, the absolute percentage still remains low (12.2 %; + 7.1 %).
Women are not as attracted to surgical specialties compared with nonsurgical ones. Further efforts will be needed to meet future demands.