GENDER EQUITY INITIATIVE
IN GLOBAL SURGERY
The Gender Equity Initiative in Global Surgery (GEIGS) is a sister organization to the PGSSC which was started by research associates and fellows in our program in 2019. The organization has now grown into a global, diverse initiative with more than 500+ members from over 65+ countries.
Why gender equity in global surgery?
The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery reported in 2015 that there were 5 billion people in the world lacking access to safe and affordable surgical and anesthesia care. With the need to double the global surgical workforce between 2015 to 2030, it is now time to tap into the resource of underrepresented genders in surgery worldwide: cisgender women and individuals in the transgender umbrella including binary trans men and women, and other gender identities outside the gender binary including non-binary, agender, genderfluid and genderqueer.
Although women have made great strides in gender parity in medicine in the U.S. and now make up more than half of all medical school matriculants, much work remains to be done in the field of surgery. As of 2015, only 19.2% of American surgeons were women, and research shows that female surgeons still face persistent discrimination throughout their career, disadvantages in career promotions, and substantial pay gaps. Globally, the picture is even bleaker. In Africa, women constitute only 7% of the surgical workforce. According to data from the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery, as of 2015, there were only three female surgeons for every 1 million people in low-income countries. The numbers for other genders out of the cisgender binary are not known, but likely even further underrepresented. Gender equity is fundamentally a matter of justice. But also, it is an indispensable means to achieve the global surgery 2030 goals for the provision of surgical care to all those in need. We believe in dismantling the long-standing structure of patriarchy in surgical fields and amplifying the voices of cisgender women and individuals in the transgender umbrella including binary trans men and women, and other gender identities outside the gender binary.
What does GEIGS do?
GEIGS aims to address gender disparities in the surgery, obstetrics, and anesthesia (SAO) workforce worldwide through research, advocacy, and mentorship, to achieve worldwide gender equity in surgery by 2030. We try to do this through:
To inform the surgical community and the public on gender disparities in SAO fields through research.
To advocate for gender equity in surgery, anesthesia and obstetric fields.
To empower surgeons, trainees, and medical students of underrepresented gender worldwide by international collaboration and creating a mentorship network.
The organization consists of three pillars: research, mentorship, and advocacy. In addition to these councils, regional liaisons and a Diversity, Equity and Justice (DEJ) Task Force work at the core of the organization and guide all the work.
Check out the GEIGS website for more information and to join the movement!
Rigorous research will form the basis of our work as we strive to address the gender disparities in global surgery. It will be our guiding hand for informed, evidence-based and data-driven advocacy to make social change. We are taking an analytical, problem-solving approach to the question: why are there so few women surgeons, and even fewer in faculty and leadership positions in surgery? We want to understand the systemic and perceived barriers for women in pursuing a surgical career, and also how they are manifested across different political, cultural, and economic contexts.
We must work tirelessly to promote our unified vision for global gender equity. It is not enough to merely conduct research. We must be able to communicate these important messages and ideals to academics, governments, and the public so that we can garner support and create lasting change. This strategy involves social media, publishing in academic journals and mainstream media, creating a public presence at international meetings and conferences, and being vocal at every opportunity. We hope to be a loud and resounding voice for the gender equity movement.
Research shows that mentoring fosters professional and personal development, and also enhances the female leadership pipeline, marshaling the empowerment of women. Acknowledging the need for such a platform, we endeavor to build a mentorship network of enthusiastic and passionate women surgeons, trainees and medical students from all over the world. By devising a mentor-mentee matching system that is structured and continually evaluated for quality relationship building, we will provide a program that helps accelerate the advancement of personal growth and career development in women, subsequently challenging the status quo in the surgical field.