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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 115-116

Women in orthopaedics: The missing wow factor

Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani, Uttarakhand, India

Date of Submission06-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance23-Nov-2021
Date of Web Publication20-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ganesh Singh Dharmshaktu
Department of Orthopaedics, Government Medical College, Haldwani - 263 139, Uttarakhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jodp.jodp_31_21

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How to cite this article:
Dharmshaktu GS, Dharmshaktu IS. Women in orthopaedics: The missing wow factor. J Orthop Dis Traumatol 2021;4:115-6

How to cite this URL:
Dharmshaktu GS, Dharmshaktu IS. Women in orthopaedics: The missing wow factor. J Orthop Dis Traumatol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 20];4:115-6. Available from: https://jodt.org/text.asp?2021/4/3/115/332948

Diversity in the workplace, with its proven benefits, has become a desirable asset for any successful enterprise and health-care system is not an exception.[1] Orthopedic surgery has always been associated with a glaring low representation from women in residency and faculty positions alike, making this discipline the least diverse of all surgical specialties.[2] In fact, with only 14.9% of women residents, orthopedics is at the lowest of all specialty rankings the world over.[3] The lower interest or participation is so abysmal that many outreach programs and scholarships have been instituted to attract attention and interest in many developed nations. These initiatives are conspicuous by their absence, so far, in developing countries with even more skewed ratios.

The scholarship programs with financial rewards to attend orthopedic meetings or seminars have been established in the USA. One of the fellowships, Ruth Jackson Orthopedic Society (RJOS), includes participation in the annual RJOS and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting. A study to understand whether the number of winning students actually converts into the orthopedic specialty concluded that the initiative was helpful in this purpose. Not only 65 (80%) women out of 83 winners from the year 2003 to 2016 enrolled in residency, but 44.9% of those who could not win also chose orthopedics.[4] Perry initiative is another program with an objective to provide a targeted program or early mentorship.[5] Mentorship has been found to play a crucial role in developing interest and influencing career choices.[6],[7] Right nudge and direction also helps overcome impediments and mental demons. A recent study, first of its kind, highlighting issues faced by Indian women in orthopedics, suggested gender bias, discrimination in promotion, and leadership vacuum as key issues that need systemic changes to encourage a more inclusive workforce and quality representation.[8] Less than five women at the time of study were in a leadership position in a highly populous democracy. The article stated that women making for just 1% of orthopedic workforce, with most being trainees, is indeed a sad state of affairs. Their constitution of the Indian Women Orthopedics group with its 221 members is, however, a welcome respite. What was more satisfying is their majoritarian reaffirmation of the fact that women need better representation in orthopedics.

The year 2020–2021, marred by the impact of continuing COVID-19 pandemic, had one positive trend in medical education in the form of virtual events, webinars, and conferences. One such notable webinar series called WORTHY webinar series by Women Orthopaedic Surgeons of India Collective Empowerment was well attended and praised on popular web platform OrthoTV. The event was held in memory of the birth anniversary of Dr. P. K. MullaFeroze, a first lady orthopedician from India.[9] It was reiterated in the event that more than 200 registered women orthopedic surgeons in India need to stand out with constructive leadership.

The international orthopedic arena also witnessed the formation of women-specific groups voicing for their better representation in various international fora. One such recent organization is Women in Orthopedics Worldwide, a collective of leaders of women in orthopedics standing for equity and inclusion.[10] The association also organized their first symposium in August 2021 online on YouTube.[11] Another noteworthy initiative is an organization called the International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance, with a similar objective of inclusion, diversity, and inclusion by visionary leaders within the specialty. Their membership is free, and their objective of mentoring is not only limited to women but also open to underrepresented communities.[12] Their appeal as action steps to be adopted in institutions to support diversity and inclusion is simple and should be promoted.[13]

Indian orthopedic associations, as of now, have no scholarship or support system placed to help generate interest or provide appropriate assistance to undergraduate medical girls. In recent years, though, we are witnessing more female postgraduate student enrollment in orthopedics which reflects a similar trend by Indian women in various disciplines of medicine or other uncharted territories. The orthopedics shall also gain from a set of fresh eyes and vision with far-reaching positive reverberations as the engagement of spirited women flourishes. The other disciplines have reaped rich dividends with women on board. Orthopedics, a field associated with burgeoning complexity and technical innovation, do need feminine touch and bold makeover to remain relevant. It would be remarkable for Indian orthopedic fraternity to rise to the occasion and seek unity in diversity.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Madani K, Pendergrast T, Sundareshan V, Jain S. The women in medicine summit. An evolution of empowerment in Chicago, Illinois, October 9 and 10, 2020: Event highlights, scientific abstracts, and dancing with markers. Int J Acad Med 2020;6:337-98.  Back to cited text no. 1
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AAMC. The State of Women in Academic Medicine: The Pipeline and Pathway to Leadership, 2015-2016. Washington, D.C: Association of American Medical Colleges; 2016.  Back to cited text no. 2
Day CS, Lage DE, Ahn CS. Diversity based on race, ethnicity, and sex between academic orthopaedic surgery and other specialties: A comparative study. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2010;92:2328-35.  Back to cited text no. 3
Vajapey S, Cannada LK, Samora JB. What proportion of women who received funding to attend a Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society meeting pursued a career in orthopaedics? Clin Orthop Relat Res 2019;477:1722-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Lattanza LL, Meszaros-Dearolf L, O'Connor MI, Ladd A, Bucha A, Trauth-Nare A, et al. The Perry initiative's medical student outreach program recruits women into orthopaedic residency. Clin Orthop Relat Res 2016;474:1962-6.  Back to cited text no. 5
Baldwin K, Namdari S, Bowers A, Keenan MA, Levin LS, Ahn J. Factors affecting interest in orthopedics among female medical students: A prospective analysis. Orthopedics 2011;34:e919-32.  Back to cited text no. 6
Frei E, Stamm M, Buddeberg-Fischer B. Mentoring programs for medical students – A review of the PubMed literature 2000-2008. BMC Med Educ 2010;10:32.  Back to cited text no. 7
Madhuri V, Khan N. Orthopaedic women of India: Impediments to their growth. Indian J Orthop 2020;54:409-10.  Back to cited text no. 8
WOICE Presents WORTHY Webinar Series: Grand Finale. Available from: https://orthotvonline.com/woice-presents-worthy-webinar-series-grand-finale/. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 05].  Back to cited text no. 9
WOW. Available from: https://wowrtho.org. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 05].  Back to cited text no. 10
Events. Available from: https://wowortho.org/news-%26-events. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 05].  Back to cited text no. 11
International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance. Available from: https://www.orthopaedicdiversity.org/. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 05].  Back to cited text no. 12
International Orthopaedic Diversity Alliance. What Can You Do? Available from: https://www.orthopaedicdiversity.org/what-can-you-do. [Last accessed on 2021 Nov 05].  Back to cited text no. 13


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