Dr. Sara GouldOrthopaedic surgery is known as a medical field that is comprised mostly of men, and this reputation is accurate. In fact, every year that the orthopaedic Census Survey was conducted, at least 90 percent of the orthopaedic workforce has been male.

The number of female orthopaedic surgeons have shown an increasing trend, but numbers are still dismal. In 2018, only 5.8 percent of the workforce was female.

Associate Professor Sara Gould, M.D., MPH, seeks to accelerate the number of female orthopaedic surgeons in the U.S.

In 2019, the departnent partnered with The Perry Initiative, to host a Perry Outreach Program at UAB, led by Gould. The program is a one-day career exploration for young women in high school who are interested in careers in orthopaedic surgery, engineering or both.

According to Gould’s report, a total of 36 women, 18 high school and 18 medical school, attended the Perry Initiative events and responded to the pre-event and post-event surveys. Gould was able to glean key information from the survey data.

Dr. Gould and Megan CoffineMegan Coffin (left) and Dr. Sara Gould (right)Gould shares that prior to the Perry Initiative, 31 percent of the total attendees reported knowing a female orthopaedist. The Perry Initiative improved perceptions of both high school and medical students regarding the ability of women to have a work/life balance, family life, and children during orthopaedics residency.

Gould ultimately concludes that medical student participation in the events led to a decreased belief in barriers regarding schedule, family life, perceptions of an orthopaedic surgeon, and perceptions of peers within healthcare setting.

“It is key to show young women that they can be a part of this field, that there is a seat ready for them here at the table, especially while they are in high school, college, or medical school,” said Gould. “These are formative years as student begin to select their ultimate career path, and we want more women to see that orthopaedic surgery is a wonderful choice.”

Gould and Megan Coffin, a medical student who contributed to the research, presented at the American Academcy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, which followed all COVID-19 protocols, in San Diego, CA. To read the entire research report and its methods, click here.