Women in Surgery Overview
committed to expanding the number of women in surgical training and
to ensuring the training programs do not disadvantage them. The
development of the Women in Surgery Section and mentoring programs
for Trainees reflect that commitment.
The challenge of attracting women to surgical careers is not
unique in Australia or New Zealand, but,
since half the medical graduates are now female, there is a need to
attract the best graduates to surgery, and the College is actively
pursuing that goal.
The Women in Surgery Section was established to encourage and
support all Trainees, but females in particular.
The Section is a source of advice and guidance for Council in relation to
gender and Trainee issues.
While recognising gender issues in training and the surgical
workforce, the committee also aims to develop guidelines and
policies to combat the numerous issues faced by all individuals in
the surgical field.
The Section seeks to remove any barriers Trainees or
medical graduates face and are involved with the development of a
mentoring program within the College to assist medical students,
Trainees and young surgeons.
The Committee has developed the Women
in Surgery Business Plan 2017-2021 (PDF 1.4 MB). The
plan outlines the section's objectives, backed by tangible
indicators, to promote Leadership, Role Modelling, Flexible
Training and Advocacy.
The Committee has assisted in the development of some of
the College's key policies and related documents. It has been
fundamental in establishing guidelines on issues such as
Discrimination and Harassment, and Safe Working Hours, and
plans to continue this work with a mentoring scheme.
Scientific and education programs, including the Women in
Surgery Breakfast, are run at the Annual Scientific Congress
The Section released a discussion paper regarding Flexible Surgical Training. The Section is
also represented on College working parties regarding mentoring and
flexible training formed to make recommendations to Council in
Link to January 2013
Surgical News article Flexible Surgical Training - Let's expand the
opportunities (PDF 16MB).
Medical student/Women in Medicine events
The Women in Surgery Section welcomes enquiries from medical
student organisations and societies about events they may be
organising. The Section is keen to work with these organisations
and can provide some assistance such as providing speakers, panel
members and presenters. Email the contact below for further
RACS inaugural Women in Surgery essay competition winner
Born from the desire to encourage women studying medicine into a
surgical career, the Women in Surgery (WIS) Section Committee held
a medical student essay competition earlier this year.
The prize - a trip to Bangkok to attend the 2019 Annual
Scientific Congress - proved a hit with young medical students as
entries started to pour in from October through to late January.
The theme 'Are surgery and social media incompatible' resonated
with the female medical student cohort as RACS received a
staggering 76 essays. The selection panel, made up of members of
the WIS committee, spent many hours reading through the essays as
well as deliberating over the final shortlist.
One panel member remarked there were "so many high quality
essays - it was so difficult to choose".
Monash University medical student, Jessie Zhou, won the
competition with her essay 'Are surgery and social media incompatible? The
impact of social media on Surgery in our Brave New World.' (PDF
International Women's Day 2019
Balance drives a better working world. Let's all help create
International Women's Day (March 8) is a global
day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political
achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for
accelerating gender parity.
Recognising and celebrating the
valuable contribution that women make to today's work
celebrated International Women's day around Australia and New
Membership to the Women in Surgery Section is
'opt-in' and open to Fellows,
Trainees, IMGs, junior doctors and medical students.
All members have access to the WIS Section's Strategic Plan,
papers for the Section's annual meeting at the ASC and various
other resources via the College portal. If you are interested in
becoming a member, please forward your details to the Secretariat.
Fellows, Trainees and IMGs are welcome to discuss issues with an
Executive Committee member via email.
Sections Terms of Reference
Committee Chair - Dr Christine Lai
Deputy Chair - Associate Professor Kate Drummond FRACS (VIC)
Deputy Chair - Dr Tanya Yuen FRACS (VIC)
Associate Professor Deb Colville FRACS (VIC)
Dr Kesley Pedler FRACS (NSW)
Dr Simone Smith (NSW)
Dr Teresa Withers FRACS (QLD)
Dr Jennifer Green FRACS (Co-opted member - ACT
Dr Jodie-Kate Williams FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT
Dr Stephanie Weidlich FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT
Dr Pecky De Silva FRACS (Co-opted member - 2018 ASC
Dr Jane Strang FRACS (Co-opted member - 2019 ASC Convener)
Dr Amy Touzell FRACS (Co-opted member - 2020 ASC Convener)
Dr Rachel Care (RACSTA Representative)
Ms Victoria Cook (AMSA Representative)
Papers - A link to all of the RACS Position Papers
Support Program (members only, login required)
Women in Surgery Section Secretariat
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
College of Surgeons' Gardens
250-290 Spring Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002 Australia
Telephone: +61 3 9249 1259
Fax: +61 3 9276 7432