“Surgery is the only profession that continues to use gendered titles in Australia and New Zealand,” said Dr Christine Lai, Chair, Fellowship Services Committee. 

“Gendered titles can be confusing for patients because they create the perception that Dr X and Mr Y have different qualifications, despite both being surgeons specialising in the same field.”

The use of the term ‘Mister’ for surgeons dates to the 18th century and does not have any relevance to surgical practice today.

“The gendered term somehow started to become attached to a certain prestige of being a surgeon and has carried forward to surgical practice today,” said Dr Lai.

Gendered titles can contribute to implicit bias against female surgeons. “Many patients still question the qualifications of female surgeons,” said Dr Lai.

“While overt discrimination is no longer legally tolerated, there is still a subtle implicit bias that can be perpetuated by gendered titles.”

“We are all doctors, and there is no reason for differentiate ourselves by including a reference to our gender in our title.”

Gendered titles for surgeon create power and status differences between surgeons and other medical professionals, male and female surgeons, and women who are married and women who are not.  

Removing gendered titles further cements RACS’s commitment to improving gender equity, building respect and demonstrating inclusion amongst the surgical workforce. 

RACS will use the title ‘Dr’ to refer to surgeons and encourage them to make this change in their private or personal practices.

Media enquiries: Cordelia Alfred (RACS) 0424 560 333