According to UCAS, in 2011 55% of people accepted on to medical degree courses in the UK were women. In 2012, women made up only 9.2% of consultant surgeons in England. The increased proportion of female medical students appears not be translating through into a similarly increased proportion of women surgeons.
However, training in surgery can take around 10 years after graduation, so we would expect it to take sometime for all these new female doctors to train and become consultants. In 2011, 26% of surgical trainees were women. The proportion of women surgeons has continued to rise for many years, and we see no reason as to why this would slow down.
Women are represented in all nine surgical specialities and at all levels within a surgical career. Paediatric surgery has the highest proportion of women surgeons, with 22%, plastic surgery and oral and maxillo facial surgery also have higher proportions of women surgeons, with 16 % and 13% respectively.
The most popular specialty among women surgeons is general surgery, with 37%. This is unsurprising, as general surgery is by far the largest of the surgical specialties. Similarly, trauma and orthopaedic surgery is another popular choice for women surgeons; 15% of women surgeons choose this specialty.
More detail on the numbers of women in surgery is available from the WinS office, or from the NHS Information Centre.