Women in Surgery


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Women in Surgery Overview

WIS1RACS is committed to expanding the number of women in surgical training and to ensuring the training programs do not disadvantage them. The development of the Women in Surgery Section and mentoring programs for Trainees reflect that commitment.

The challenge of attracting women to surgical careers is not unique in Australia or New Zealand, but, since half the medical graduates are now female, there is a need to attract the best graduates to surgery, and the College is actively pursuing that goal.

The Women in Surgery Section was established to encourage and support all Trainees, but females in particular.

The Section is a source of advice and guidance for Council in relation to gender and Trainee issues.

While recognising gender issues in training and the surgical workforce, the committee also aims to develop guidelines and policies to combat the numerous issues faced by all individuals in the surgical field.

The Section seeks to remove any barriers Trainees or medical graduates face and are involved with the development of a mentoring program within the College to assist medical students, Trainees and young surgeons.


The Committee has developed the Women in Surgery Business Plan 2017-2021 (PDF 1.4 MB). The plan outlines the section's objectives, backed by tangible indicators, to promote Leadership, Role Modelling, Flexible Training and Advocacy.

The Committee has assisted in the development of some of the College's key policies and related documents. It has been fundamental in establishing guidelines on issues such as Discrimination and Harassment, and Safe Working Hours, and plans to continue this work with a mentoring scheme.

Scientific and education programs, including the Women in Surgery Breakfast, are run at the Annual Scientific Congress (ASC).

The Section released a discussion paper regarding Flexible Surgical Training. The Section is also represented on College working parties regarding mentoring and flexible training formed to make recommendations to Council in 2014.

Link to January 2013 Surgical News article Flexible Surgical Training - Let's expand the opportunities (PDF 16MB).

Medical student/Women in Medicine events

The Women in Surgery Section welcomes enquiries from medical student organisations and societies about events they may be organising. The Section is keen to work with these organisations and can provide some assistance such as providing speakers, panel members and presenters. Email the contact below for further information.

International Women's Day 2019

Balance drives a better working world. Let's all help create a #BalanceforBetter.

International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.

Recognising and celebrating the valuable contribution that women make to today's work force,  RACS will be celebrating International Women's Day in the following ways:

Victoria - Thursday 7 March 6-8pm
A Cocktail Evening will be held at RACS, Melbourne in the courtyard (or Lecture Room 1 pending weather conditions). Local Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr Alison Taylor will speak, along with RACS CEO Mary Harney who will introduce the event.
RSVP to secure your complimentary registration by Wednesday 27 February.
This event is proudly supported by Macquarie
Contact: Monique Whear

Western Australia - Wednesday 6 March 6:30pm - 8:30pm
A Cocktail Evening will be held externally at The Mark, COMO The Treasury, 1 Cathedral Ave, Perth. A number of West Australian female surgical specialists, along with UWA Women in Surgery representatives will speak.
RSVP to secure your complimentary registration  by Wednesday 27 February.
This event is proudly supported by Avant Mutual
Contact: Maria Rechichi

South Australia - Friday 8 March 2019 6pm-8pm
A Cocktail Evening to be held externally at Stone's Throw, 127 The Parade, Norwood. Tickets $25pp. 
Register your attendance by Wednesday 27 February.
Contact: Maria Cogman

Planning has commenced on having events in Brisbane, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, possibly Cairns later this year. Most likely on Friday 16 August 2019. This date is significant as it is near to Lillian Cooper's birth and date of death. Lillian Cooper was Qld's first registered female medical practitioner and a founding member of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons in 1928. More event details will be available shortly.
Contact details: David Watson

ACT - Friday 8 March 7am - 8:30am
A Networking Breakfast with the theme 'Equity & Diversity in Training' will be held externally at the EQ Café, 70 Kent Street, Deakin.
Senior Australian of the Year, Sue Packer will speak.
RSVP to secure your complimentary registration by Monday 4 March.
Contact: Margaret Gracie

Tasmania - Wednesday 6 March 7am
A Networking Breakfast to be held in Univeristy of Tasmania Medical School NICS Scholars Lounge, 41 Frankland Street, Launceston. Three prominent female medical specialists including Kim Rooney, Katie Flanagan and Dr Nishanthi Gurusinghe will speak.
This event is proudly supported by Avant Mutual
Contact: Di Cornish

New South Wales - Friday 8 March 6pm
A Networking Evening will be held at the RACS NSW Office, Suite 1, Level 26, 201 Kent Street, Sydney. Ms Louise McCann, National Head of Healthcare for Westpac will speak.
Register to secure a place
(Medical students to contact Joan Wong)
Contact: Pecky De Silva (WiS)

New Zealand - Friday 8 March 2019 7:30am
A Networking Breakfast will be held at the RACS NZ Office, Level 3, 8 Kent Terrace,  Mount Victoria, Wellington. Otolaryngology Head & Neck Surgeon and Chair of the NZ National Board Dr Nicola Hill will speak.
RSVP to secure your complimentary registration by Friday 1 March.
Contact: NZ Office or Justine Peterson



Membership enquiries

Membership to the Women in Surgery Section is 'opt-in' and open to Fellows, Trainees, IMGs, junior doctors and medical students.

All members have access to the WIS Section's Strategic Plan, papers for the Section's annual meeting at the ASC and various other resources via the College portal. If you are interested in becoming a member, please forward your details to the Secretariat.

Fellows, Trainees and IMGs are welcome to discuss issues with an Executive Committee member via email.


Sections Terms of Reference

Committee Chair - Dr Christine Lai (FRACS)
Deputy Chair - Associate Professor Kate Drummond FRACS (VIC)
Deputy Chair - Dr Tanya Yuen FRACS (VIC)
Associate Professor Deb Colville FRACS (VIC)
Dr Kesley Pedler FRACS (NSW)
Dr Simone Smith (NSW)
Dr Teresa Withers FRACS (QLD)
Dr Jennifer Green FRACS (Co-opted member - ACT representative)
Dr Jodie-Kate Williams FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT representative)
Dr Stephanie Weidlich FRACS (Co-opted member - joint NT representative)
Dr Pecky De Silva FRACS (Co-opted member - 2018 ASC Convener)
Dr Jane Strang FRACS (Co-opted member - 2019 ASC Convener)
Dr Amy Touzell FRACS (Co-opted member - 2020 ASC Convener)
Dr Rachel Care (RACSTA Representative)
Ms Victoria Cook (AMSA Representative)


Position Papers - A link to all of the RACS Position Papers

RACS Complaints

RACS Support Program (members only, login required)



Women in Surgery Section Secretariat
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
College of Surgeons' Gardens
250-290 Spring Street
East Melbourne VIC 3002 Australia

Telephone: +61 3 9249 1259
Fax: +61 3 9276 7432
Email: wis@surgeons.org