What Women Want: A Qualitative Analysis of Women’s Motivation to Pursue Surgical Careers





Gender, Women, Surgery, Career Choice, Medical Education, Motivation


Objective:  This study was undertaken to explore what motivates women to pursue surgical careers.


Design:  Qualitative methods were employed in this interview-based study.  Interviews were recorded, manually anonymized and transcribed, and thematized using NVivo software.


Setting:  This study was conducted at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada. 


Participants:  Recruitment for this study via email requested volunteers who identified as women and were medical students considering a career in surgery. Recruitment continued until data was saturated.  A total of 8 participants volunteered and were included.


Results: This study revealed five themes associated with women's motivation to pursue surgical careers; mentorship, inherent aspirations, lived experience, and proof of capability, preconceived ideals.  The commonest theme was mentorship.  The women who participated in this study employed unconventional methods when seeking mentorship, some of which are unique to this work. 


Conclusions:  The most prevalent factors influencing women's motivation to pursue surgical careers are mentorship, inherent aspirations, participants' lived experience, a desire to prove their capability, and their preconceived ideals about surgery.  All factors were deeply influential over one another.  A greater understanding of these factors may help future researchers and educators create a more fulfilling career for women in surgery. 


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How to Cite

Atkinson, S. (2021). What Women Want: A Qualitative Analysis of Women’s Motivation to Pursue Surgical Careers. Canadian Journal of Career Development, 20(2), 32–39. https://doi.org/10.53379/cjcd.2021.119