Orthopedic Surgery has always been a male dominated field; in fact, only 4.3 percent of board-certified orthopedic surgeons are female, the lowest percentage of women in a surgical specialty.
One of the reasons for this disparity is a lack of female orthopedic role models. “Women orthopedic residents were also twice as likely to cite a perceived lack of acceptance by senior faculty as a barrier to entering the field” (O’Connor, HuffingtonPost.com, Orthopedic Surgery: Women on the Rise in a Male-Dominated Field, August 2012).
While the presence of women in orthopedic residency programs has recently increased, only 14 percent of today’s orthopedic residents are female. As our population continues to age, the need for orthopedic surgeons continues to increase, as does the need to attract the best and the brightest. Therefore, orthopedics needs to become more attractive to female students.
Taking an example from The Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society, a support and networking group for women orthopedic surgeons, and from The Perry Initiative, which aims to inspire young women to be leaders in orthopedic surgery and engineering by sponsoring hands-on outreach to young women in high schools and medical schools across the country, the Maimonides Bone and Joint Center aspires to attract young women to a future in orthopedic surgery.
Headed by Dr. Mara S. Karamitopoulos, Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, the Maimonides Women in Science Program is a one-month summer internship, July 5 – July 29, for female high school students who wish to pursue a career in medicine.
Dr. Karamitopoulos and her colleagues inspire young women to pursue a career in science by providing a hands-on learning experience, during which the students will
be assigned their own research projects, leading to a presentation upon completion of the program. Students will work with a female research associate and a female research resident.
assist surgeons in an outpatient setting, learning more about the direct patient experience
join surgeons in the operating room to view firsthand the process of surgery and healing
use the simulation equipment to “operate” on a patient
join resident-led orthopedic lectures and discussions
read and discuss articles written by female surgeons and about female surgeons
be paired with a female mentor, who will provide one-on-one guidance to the students