Exploring women's strong preference for women surgeons in breast healthcare

Rotem Kahalon, Roy Adar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: This study challenges the prevalent belief that surgical roles demand masculine traits, potentially limiting women's suitability for such positions. Contrary to this stereotype, we explored the hypothesis that in sensitive surgical procedures, where communal traits are valued, women patients might favor women surgeons. Two experimental studies investigated women's preferences for a man versus a woman surgeon in a breast exam and breast surgery. Methods: In two studies we experimentally tested women's preferences for a man versus a woman surgeon for a breast exam (a noninvasive and non-complicated procedure), and breast surgery (an invasive and more complicated procedure). Study 2 delved into factors influencing these preferences, including patients' age, stereotypical perceptions of women surgeons as communal/warm, past negative experiences with men and women doctors, and previous body-related trauma. Results: Women consistently preferred a woman surgeon for both procedures and expressed increased willingness to wait for an appointment with a woman surgeon. However, this preference was less pronounced for surgery than for an exam. Study 2 identified the stereotypical perception of women surgeons as communal/warm as the strongest predictor for this preference, along with previous negative experiences with men doctors and age. Conclusions: While some gender bias persists, this study underscores a notable preference for women surgeons in intimate medical services like breast exams or surgery. This preference holds practical implications for healthcare providers encouraging women's preventive checkups and offers insights for women medical students making residency choices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)887-893
Number of pages7
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. World Journal of Surgery published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Society of Surgery/Société Internationale de Chirurgie (ISS/SIC).


  • breast examination
  • gender preference
  • gender stereotypes
  • general surgery
  • patients' preference


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