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Original article

Vol. 141 No. 2930 (2011)

Female surgeons’ mentoring experiences and success in an academic career in Switzerland

  • R Kaderli
  • U Stefenelli
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2011;141:w13233


PRINCIPLES: An increasing proportion of women are working in medicine, although only very few choose surgical specialties and the interest in an academic pursuit is generally smaller among women compared to their male colleagues. The aim of the present study was to analyse factors critical for a successful academic career for female surgeons in Switzerland and to assess the value of mentor-mentee relationships in this context.

METHODS: An anonymous national survey among board-certified female surgeons and female residents was conducted in Switzerland during spring 2008. The support in career advancement was investigated with five scales: networking, career planning, coaching, role model and emotional support scale. Career development was assessed based on the following criteria: number of talks at scientific conferences, number of peer-reviewed publications, participation in research projects, months of research as a fulltime activity, amount of awarded scholarships, amount of obtained third-party funds and number of research awards obtained.

RESULTS: In total, 189/318 (59.4%) questionnaires were returned. Mentor-mentee relationships were reported by 109/189 (58%) respondents. The bivariate analysis showed a positive influence on the sum score regarding the respondents who were in a mentor-mentee relationship or who had support in doing household work (p = 0.09).

CONCLUSIONS: A supporting network, especially in terms of a mentor, is crucial so that female physicians interested in an academic career get the opportunity to accomplish their purpose. There is considerable potential for improvement as almost half of the respondents did not have a mentor in this survey.


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