Women in Surgery


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Women in Surgery Overview

WIS1RACS is 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 (ASC).

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 2014.

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 welcome 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 information.

Exciting opportunity for female medical students in 2019

For a chance to win a trip to the RACS Annual Scientific Congress in Thailand in May 2019, female medical students in Australia and New Zealand can enter the inaugural Women in Surgery essay competition. The essay topic is:

Are surgery and social media incompatible?
(1000 word limit)

Essays will be accepted until Friday, 25th January 2019. Email essays to the WIS secretariat, providing your full name, address, phone number, preferred email address and details of your medical school. Australian applicants are to submit their AHPRA registration details with their application. A successful New Zealand applicant will be required to submit evidence of enrolment in a medical degree within a week of being notified of winning the competition. This may take the form of a confirmation letter from the Dean of the university they are attending.

The winner will be notified before the end of February 2019.

Prize includes:

  • 1 x Return economy airfare to Bangkok from the winner's home base;
  • Up to 5 nights accommodation in Bangkok, including breakfasts. It is envisaged the winner will fly into Bangkok either Sunday, 5th May or Monday 6 May and depart Friday, 10 May 2019
  • Return airport transfers in Bangkok
  • ASC registration
  • WIS Breakfast session registration
  • 1 x ticket to the Younger Fellows & Trainees dinner
  • 1 x ticket to the Congress dinner

Note: Prize does not include airport transfers in Australia or New Zealand; passport, visa or other travel documentation costs, travel insurance or meals other than those stated above. These are at the winner's own expense.

Current (2018) Australian and New Zealand medical students (including final year medical students in 2018) are eligible to apply.

Further enquiries to the WIS secretariat or phone +61 9249 1259.



Membership enquiries

Membership to the Women in Surgery Section is 'opt-in' and open to Fellows, Trainees, IMGs, junior doctores and medical students.

All members have access to the WIS Sections 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 welcomed to discuss issues with an Executive Committee member via email.


Sections Terms of Reference

Committee Chair - Dr Christine Lai (FRACS)
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 representative)
Dr Jodie-Kate Williams FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT representative)
Dr Stephanie Weidlich FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT representative)
Dr Pecky De Silva FRACS (Co-opted member - 2018 ASC Convener)
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)


Position Papers - A link to all of the RACS Position Papers

RACS Complaints

RACS 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 1212
Fax: +61 3 9276 7432
Email: wis@surgeons.org