July 1995 Bulletin

Many women orthopaedists in academia

A survey of women orthopaedic surgeons in the United States and Canada found that more than one-third who have completed their orthopaedic training continue to participate in academic orthopaedics. The survey disclosed that 68 percent are working in a university setting full-time, and the remainder are university-affiliated and working in the community.

Laura Tosi, MD, conducted the 200-question survey of 127 women in academic orthopaedics for the April meeting of the Academic Orthopaedic Society. More than three-quarters of the respondents have been in academia for 10 years or less, which is not surprising, said Dr. Tosi, because the median age of the respondents is 38. Fifty-seven percent hold the academic rank of assistant professor and 19 percent are associate professor. Only 2 percent are full professors and only 8 percent are tenured. Ninteen percent are on a tenure track, but 37 percent are on a nontenure track. A tenure track was not available for 36 percent of the respondents.

The primary areas of interest of the women orthopaedic surgeons were pediatrics, trauma, arthroscopy-sports, and foot and ankle. The respondents believe their best skills are clinical work and teaching and that they are weakest in research skills.

Less than one-third have been in charge of a residency course or fellowship. About 40 percent have reviewed articles for journals, and 21 percent have been on editorial boards.

Three-quarters of the orthopaedists had role models, and more than two-thirds said this was important in helping them choose a career in orthopaedics. Eighty percent of the respondents said their role models were men.

Only about half said they had mentors - individuals who assumed a responsibility to guide and promote their career. However, two-thirds of the respondents said they had served as mentors to others.

Major obstacles for their careers were "lack of protected time for research projects, increasing need to see more patients to support the financial demands of their departments, absence of rewards for clinical practice or the clinician/teacher role, and inadequate mentoring," said Dr. Tosi.

Dr. Tosi said many of the problems she found are similar for men, but time and funding did not permit a broader survey.

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