Distribution of male and female procedural and surgical specialists in Australia

Elizabeth Turtle, Anna Vnuk, Vivian Isaac

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective This study examined the distribution of the sexes across Australian medical procedural specialties in 2017 and investigated the proportion of currently registered female specialists based on their graduation date from 1969 to 2008.
    Methods A cross-sectional analysis of current Australian procedural and surgical specialists registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Agency as of January 2017 was undertaken. Participants included 4851 surgical specialists (594 female, 4257 male) and 14 948 specialists in specialties with high levels of procedural clinical work (4418 female, 10 530 male). The number of male and female specialists across each procedural specialty and the medical school graduation date of current female specialists were analysed.
    Results In 2017, female fellows represented only one in 10 surgeons and three in 10 procedural specialists. All surgical specialties are underrepresented by female specialists. Cardiology is least represented by female practitioners (one in 10), followed by intensive care and ophthalmology (two in 10). General surgery, otolaryngology and urology saw more female specialists with graduation dates between 1983 and 2003 compared with the other surgical specialties.
    Conclusion The number of female practitioners registered as specialists is increasing, but they continue to be underrepresented at specialist level across many procedural and surgical specialties.
    What is known about the topic? Although the number of female students entering medical school now outnumbers that of males, female practitioners remain underrepresented at the specialist level.
    What does this paper add? Surgery continues to be underrepresented by female specialists, but general surgery, otolaryngology and urology have shown increases in females reaching specialist level. All procedural specialties have shown increasing numbers of female practitioners reaching the specialist level.
    What are the implications for practitioners? All surgical specialties and nearly all procedural specialties need to adopt evidence-based practices to make their training programs both appealing and sustainable to female trainees in order to work towards achieving gender parity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-240
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralian health review : a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
    Issue number2
    Early online date16 Feb 2021
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


    • Surgical specialists
    • Australia
    • demographics
    • Gender analysis


    Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of male and female procedural and surgical specialists in Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this