Surgery residents working to ensure diversity in Canadian Orthopaedics

Orthopaedic surgery has the lowest percentage of female surgeons among surgical disciplines in Canada. In 1968,
the percentage of practicing female orthopaedic surgeons was a mere 0.9%. By 2018 this percentage grew to 11.2%. Considering that at least half of medical school graduates are female, this remains far below the expected number of women entering orthopaedics. Many barriers have been identified that account for the difficulty in attracting women into orthopaedics as well as in advancing women into leadership roles. Implicit bias negatively affects all aspects of women’s orthopaedic surgery careers and has been implicated in the challenge of attracting women to orthopaedic surgery, optimizing career development for women, gender pay inequities, and the lack of leadership opportunities.

K_Barton.jpgC_Cadieux.jpgDrs. Chloe Cadieux and Kristen Barton (PGY3 orthopaedic surgery residents at Western University) are two  members of the Canadian Orthopaedic Association’s Gender Diversity Task Force. The key strategies of the task force for ensuring diversity in the Canadian Orthopaedic Association and within Canadian orthopaedics include the following:

  1. Build and maintain a diverse workforce through recruitment, increasing opportunities, and strategic initiatives to increase diversity
  2. Cultivate and support an inclusive culture and environment in orthopaedics 
  3. Increase diversity in leadership positions within the organisation
  4. Expand infrastructure and support for diversity initiatives
  5. Develop partnerships and reputation by aligning with similar organisations
  6. Respond to the needs of members 
  7. Communicate and disseminate information specific to diversity
  8. Support quality research into diversity development and challenges
  9. Encourage the collection of research data that includes diverse groups
  10. Establish accountability within COA and subspecialty groups to implement diversity strategies
  11. Measure the progress of the strategic initiatives that have been implemented, at regular intervals

Under the supervision of Dr. Laurie Hiemstra (Canadian Orthopaedic Association President-Elect), the Canadian Orthopaedic Association’s Gender-Diversity Strategic Plan provides key strategies and practical actions to promote and advance gender equity within Canadian orthopaedics. Drs. Cadieux and Barton have been involved in  developing position statements to support the task force and contributing to qualitative studies to identify barriers to women applying and obtaining travelling fellowship positions. This research will be used to help create a more inclusive application process and increase diversity in these elite opportunities.