Table 1

Workplace factors affecting women surgeons.

DescriptionRepresentative quotes
Work conditions
 work–life balance‘I think you use up your twenties, basically exhausted, working to the exclusion of all other things. At least, that was my experience. I didn’t have time with my family. I didn’t have time with my friends, I didn’t have time for relationships, I didn’t have time for extra study.’ (P8)
 Lack of flexibility‘Certainly one of the bosses I worked for when I was first back from maternity leave was awfully hard. She didn’t support at all my choices in choosing to deliver naturally or breastfeed my children.’ (P5)
Career progression
 Access to networks‘There’s this club in surgery, and you’re either in it, or you’re not. You’ve either got the handshake and you’re in the club—and that’s usually if your dad was a surgeon or you went to Boys’ Grammar or you played rugby’ (P40)
 Role models‘Females can be the toughest critics of other females, and I think there’s multiple reasons for that, but if you look at the small number of older females, they had to fit a male model to survive back in those days’ (P3)
 Explicit sexism‘a female surgeon with children, they were talking about what a crap surgeon she is, and she’s off having babies[…]So if you’re a female trainee standing there operating while the boss is talking about this, about another female consultant, of course that affects you.’ (P15)
 Harassment and assault‘I’ve certainly had some very inappropriate sexual approaches, though. People putting their hands in through my gowns’ (P10)
 Including low-level harassment‘just sex jokes and things[…]anything that would make you blush when you’re a medical school student[…]they try and talk to you and try and get you involved in the joke, and I’d be embarrassed.’ (P9)
Work spaces
 Change rooms‘you miss the opportunity in the change rooms[…]you might be in the change rooms for fifteen minutes, and so that’s fifteen minutes of time with your peer or supervisor that you don’t otherwise get.’ (P6)