Female surgeons writing their own narratives

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Did you know that women now account for 50% of all medical graduates but only 12% of all surgeons in Australia are women?

“That pretty much makes you unicorns – rare as hen’s teeth,” our managing director Donna Shepherd said in addressing these sobering statistics with a powerful speech at the Western Australian Women in Surgery convention last Friday.

As the Chair of World Vision International, Donna is a passionate advocate for giving women opportunities to achieve their dreams.

With only 30% of women applying for surgical training in Australia and 25% less likely to be accepted than men, Donna challenged the notion of Imposter Syndrome.

“That sinking feeling you feel when you contemplate doing the things you’ve always dreamed of doing, the doubts you hear in your head when you contemplate going for that new role...that isn’t imposter syndrome,” she said to a room full of some of Western Australia’s best and brightest surgeons and aspiring surgeons.

 “You are responding to the messaging and conditions you have experienced throughout your life that have suggested you are not up to it.” 

Donna emphasised the need to work collectively to be masters of our own narratives as well as supporting each other in our journeys as women in the workplace.

She also encouraged all present to be advocates for girls and women overseas, to bring an end to child marriage and poverty and enable young girls around the world to fulfil their dreams of one day becoming surgeons.

“This is the great challenge of our time - will we use our privilege to gather with others around the world to ensure vaccine equity and to ensure all children get back to school?” she asked the audience.

“Will we help young girls realise their dreams of becoming surgeons and engineers so they too can write beautiful new narratives for themselves?”