- Department of Neurosurgery, Unifacisa University Center, Campina Grande, Brazil.
- Unifacisa University Center, College of Medical Sciences, Campina Grande, Brazil.
- Maurício de Nassau University Center, Recife, Brazil.
- Department of Neurological Surgery, Hospital da Restauração Governador Paulo Guerra, Recife, Brazil.
Luiz Severo Bem Junior
Department of Neurological Surgery, Hospital da Restauração Governador Paulo Guerra, Recife, Brazil.
DOI:10.25259/SNI_817_2020Copyright: © 2020 Surgical Neurology International This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.
How to cite this article: Luiz Severo Bem Junior1, Nilson Batista Lemos2, Júlia de Araújo Vianna3, Juliana Garcia Silva3, Luana Moury Fernandes Sanchez3, Ana Cristina Veiga Silva4, Hildo Rocha Cirne de Azevedo4. Female insertion in neurosurgery: Evolution of a stigma break. 02-Mar-2021;12:76
How to cite this URL: Luiz Severo Bem Junior1, Nilson Batista Lemos2, Júlia de Araújo Vianna3, Juliana Garcia Silva3, Luana Moury Fernandes Sanchez3, Ana Cristina Veiga Silva4, Hildo Rocha Cirne de Azevedo4. Female insertion in neurosurgery: Evolution of a stigma break. 02-Mar-2021;12:76. Available from: https://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint-articles/10623/
Background: Utilizing the Brazilian Medical Demography analysis and a literature review, we evaluated how women choose to become neurosurgeons in Brazil and around the world, specifically citing the Europe, the USA, India, and Japan.
Methods: We utilized the Brazilian Medical Demography prepared by the Federal Council of Medicine and the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of São Paulo (2011, 2013, 2015, and 2018). We also included an evaluation of 20 articles from PubMed, the Scientific Electronic Library Online, and National Health Library databases (e.g., using descriptors “Women in neurosurgery” and “Career”).
Results: In Brazil in 2017, women comprised 45.6% of active doctors, but only 8.6% of all neurosurgeons. Of 20 articles identified in the literature, 50% analyzed the factors that influenced how women choose neurosurgery, 40% dealt with gender differences, while just 10% included an analysis of what it is like to be a female neurosurgeon in different countries/continents.
Conclusion: The participation of women in neurosurgery has increased in recent years despite the persistence of gender inequality and prejudice. More women need to be enabled to become neurosurgeons as their capabilities, manual dexterity, and judgment should be valued to improve the quality of neurosurgical health-care delivery.
Keywords: Carrier, Gender disparity, Neurosurgery, Prejudice, Women in neurosurgery
Many women, ahead of their time, dared to overcome the barriers that limited their access to the neurosurgical field. It took until 1945 to produce the first female neurosurgeon in the world, Sofia Ionescu-Ogrezeanu. In Brazil, in 1976, the first Brazilian neurosurgeon was Cleyde Cley da Silva Vescio.
Still, few females have become neurosurgeons in either Brazil or other countries despite the marked increase in female physicians being trained. Here, utilizing data from both Brazilian and 20 studies in the literature we asked what social, economic, and cultural factors impacted woman wishing to choose neurosurgery.
We studied the Brazilian Medical Demography publications (e.g., prepared by the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) and the Regional Council of Medicine of the State of São Paulo 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2018), the Regional Councils of Medicine, incorporated into the CFM database, the database from Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, and collected and analyzed data through questionnaires sent to 4.601 physicians.
We also surveyed other medical specialists, extracting data from the National Commission of Medical Residency and the Societies of Medical Specialties linked to the Brazilian Medical Association.
Literature Review: We also utilized PubMed, Scientific Electronic Library Online, and National Health Library databases to identify the 20 studies included in this analysis [
Notably, the total number of Brazilian neurosurgeons is 3298 (248 females and 2638 males), and their average age is 49.4 representing than 1% of all medical physicians in the country.[
In 2017, there were about 813 5-year neurosurgical residency spots offered in Brazil, but only 508 s were filled[
In the USA, in 2016, women represented less than 20% of all residents in neurosurgery, and about 6% (259/4178) of all neurosurgeons certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgery.[
However, Dr. James Beane in 2018 spearheaded the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) in a discriminatory grievance against the 12th board certified female neurosurgeon in the USA, Nancy E. Epstein, M.D the Editor-in-Chief of Surgical Neurology international, on the Editorial Boards of Spine (since 1990), Journal Spinal Disorders/Techniques now Clinical Spine Surgery (since 1990), The Spine Journal (since 2003), Past President of the Cervical Spine Research Society, and author of over 400 peer reviewed publications.[
At present, almost half of the doctors in Europe are women.[
The number of female neurosurgeons in India is small; only 73 of 2500 certified neurosurgeons including female residents in training.[
In 2018, only 12% of new members of the JNS were women and their total number was <5% of all members.[
Despite advances in gender equality in medicine, neurosurgery is still a male-dominated field. Encouraging women during medical school to face the challenges of neurosurgery are essential to change the field, and only having more women in leadership and mentorship positions will increase their impact on this “old boys” system.
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