'Whining women surgeons who complain about their sexist industry are just making excuses,' says top British female consultant

A top female surgeon has rejected claims the profession is sexist, saying women surgeons who claim it is should stop whining and that many are using the allegation to hide they fact they are not good enough.

Helen Fernandes, who chairs the Women in Surgery group at the Royal College of Surgeons, dismissed claims that sexism was the cause for only eight per cent of consultant surgeons being female.

The number is even lower in neurosurgery, which is Ms Fernandes' area of specialism. Ms Fernandes works as a consultant at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.

In an interview with The Times, she said: 'I don't think true sexism or harassment along those lines really exists. In my opinion, a lot of girls who say that they've experienced sexism are, generally speaking, not up to the mark surgically. 'Sexism' almost becomes an excuse.'

One of the reasons put forward for the low number of female surgeons is the unpredictable nature of shifts, which could interfere with domestic issues. Ms Fernandes, who has three children, told young women wanting to build a career in medicine to stop moaning about having kids and to invest in home help.

'Don't whine for hours about childcare issues or the fact that you're a mother. Domesticity is a dirge.'

Ms Fernandes has hired the equivalent of one and half full-time employees to help her run her daily life. 'That's very difficult in your training years, because costs are so high. But you've got to take a long-term view.' She said her childcare and domestic bills now only take up 10 per cent of her salary, but that the figure was as high as 80 per cent previously.


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