Surgical Experience Disparity between Male and Female Surgeons in Japan

Emiko Kono, Urara Isozumi, Sachiyo Nomura, Kae Okoshi, Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Hiroaki Miyata, Itaru Yasufuku, Hiromichi Maeda, Junichi Sakamoto, Kazuhisa Uchiyama, Yoshihiro Kakeji, Kazuhiro Yoshida, Yuko Kitagawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Importance: Women are vastly underrepresented in surgical leadership and management in Japan. The lack of equal opportunities for surgical training is speculated to be the main reason for this disparity; however, this hypothesis has not been investigated thus far. Objective: To examine gender disparity in the number of surgical experiences among Japanese surgeons. Design, Setting, and Participants: This retrospective, multicenter cross-sectional study used data from the National Clinical Database, which contains more than 95% of all surgical procedures in Japan. Participants included male and female gastroenterological surgeons who performed appendectomy, cholecystectomy, right hemicolectomy, distal gastrectomy, low anterior resection, and pancreaticoduodenectomy between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017. Exposures: Differences in the number of surgical experiences between male and female surgeons. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were the total number of operations and number of operations per surgeon by gender and years of experience. Data were analyzed from March 18 to August 31, 2021. Results: Of 1147068 total operations, 83354 (7.27%) were performed by female surgeons and 1063714 (92.73%) by male surgeons. Among the 6 operative procedures, the percentage of operations performed by female surgeons were the highest for appendectomy (n = 20648 [9.83%]) and cholecystectomy (n = 41271 [7.89%]) and lowest for low anterior resection (n = 4507 [4.57%]) and pancreaticoduodenectomy (n = 1329 [2.64%]). Regarding the number of operations per surgeon, female surgeons had fewer surgical experiences for all 6 types of operations in all years after registration, except for appendectomy and cholecystectomy in the first 2 years after medical registration. The largest gender disparity for each surgical procedure was 3.17 times more procedures for male vs female surgeons for appendectomy (at 15 years after medical registration), 4.93 times for cholecystectomy (at 30-39 years), 3.65 times for right hemicolectomy (at 30-39 years), 3.02 times for distal gastrectomy (at 27-29 years), 6.75 times for low anterior resection (at 27-29 years), and 22.2 times for pancreaticoduodenectomy (at 30-39 years). Conclusions and Relevance: This cross-sectional study found that female surgeons had less surgical experience than male surgeons in Japan, and this gap tended to widen with an increase in years of experience, especially for medium- and high-difficulty operations. Gender disparity in surgical experience needs to be eliminated, so that female surgeons can advance to leadership positions..

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E222938
JournalJAMA Surgery
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Sept

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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