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Women surgeons racing to make a mark in male dominated robotic surgery

IANS Mar 09, 2024

An increasing number of women surgeons are joining the field of robotics -- dominated by men, said women robotic surgeons on International Women’s Day on March 8.

While women have made a significant mark in the field of medicine, surgery has for years been a male-dominated field. However, things are slowly changing with more women now using robotic technology in the field of gynaecology.

"The number of women taking up robotic surgery is increasing. Still, there is a lot of desire to be improved here. In general, the surgical field appears to be a male-dominated field. The women find it difficult to break into the field, and where women are taking up a lot of robotic surgery is gynaecology," said Rooma Sinha President of AGRS Association of Gynecological Robotic Surgeons of India Professor Gynaecology Apollo Hospitals.

"While more women are entering surgical branches, there is a dire need to keep pace. And it is especially important for women because surgery is long been perceived as ‘ only boys club’," added Dr Shabnam Bashir, Senior Consultant, Breast & Colorectal Cancer Surgeries, at Ujala Cygnus Superspeciality and Mubarak Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir.

With technology racing ahead, the experts called upon women surgeons to upskill themselves. Although upskilling is important for all, women surgeons cannot afford to lag behind, they said.

Dr. Rooma said the lack of robotic infrastructure in every hospital that the women are working in; as well as the lack of good mentors for women are the major barriers to women surgeons adopting robotics.

"Most often it is men who do robotic surgery and they tend to teach their younger male colleagues for the same surgery. We need to stand out. Women surgeons who can mentor and proctor and even encourage younger women surgeons to take up robotics in their respective fields," she said.

Besides affecting their profession, the lack of women surgeons has also affected patients. Several studies have shown that women in surgery are more meticulous or safe surgeons with fewer complications.

The eminent doctors noted that robotic surgery has also revolutionised health care for women patients.

Robotic surgery with its advantage of minimal invasion of the body, and less blood loss translates to quicker patient recovery and better cosmesis and has significant relevance to women.

"Robotic surgery has allowed working women to get back to their work faster, women who are pillars at their home to get to the same level of health before surgery much quicker," said Anupama Rajan Babu, Consultant Gynaecologic Oncologist, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, UK.

"The modern independent woman did not have to rely on a caretaker to take care of her after surgery. The complex surgery that I as a surgeon do for a patient is made safer and recovery is made much quicker with the help of robotic surgery," she added.

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