Gender Diversity in Orthopaedic Surgery – Hong Kong
By Margaret Fok
As a small city, Hong Kong has just under 500 registered orthopaedic specialists, of which just over 5% are female orthopaedic surgeons. This may be partly due to the impression that the orthopaedic subspecialty is a 'boys club'. While an orthopaedic department was being set up first in Queen Mary Hospital, the University of Hong Kong in 1951, we were proud to welcome our first female orthopaedic surgeon in 1993.
Accordingly, with an increase in the female proportion in the medical school – making up 50% of the class, there has been an increase in the number of female doctors wanting to join the subspecialty. Currently approximately 20% of orthopaedic trainees are female.
In Hong Kong, all orthopaedic trainees work under the public hospital scheme, employed by the Hospital Authority. The aims are to provide equal opportunity to all staff, with an equal pay scale and parity of treatment. All female doctors are entitled to maternity leave of up to 14 weeks. On call duties are discussed and arranged individually, depending on their level of employment e.g. consultant and trainees. When female surgeons return to work following parental leave, each hospital is committed to provide a peaceful environment for the newborn and mother for either breastfeeding or pumping milk.In the current training system, there is no part-time surgical training offered by the Hong Kong College of Orthopaedic Surgeons. For those who cannot fulfil the requirement of the surgical/orthopaedic training due to maternity leave, additional training time will be granted. Consequently, most female orthopaedic trainees may choose to give birth after their completion of training.