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The Role of Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Blackmon SH, Lehtinen M, Helder MRK. The Role of Women in Cardiothoracic Surgery. December 2018. doi:10.25373/ctsnet.7430816.

Filmed at the 2018 EACTS Annual Meeting in Milan, Italy, Shanda Blackmon of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA, moderates a discussion on the role of women in cardiothoracic surgery. Dr Blackmon is joined by Miia Lehtinen of Kymenlaakso Central Hospital in Kotka, Finland, and Meghana Helder of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They focus on the value of structured mentorship as well as more organic sponsor relationships during training, and they touch on international differences in mentoring programs. The panel also discusses working toward leadership roles and the importance of fostering an environment of inclusion and recognition.


Helen B. Taussig (1898-1986) was denied the opportunity to become a surgeon because she was a woman. Instead, she founded pediatric cardiology and thereby contributed to cardiac surgery. Nearly 50 years ago I supported the acceptance of the first woman into our general surgical residency when there was overt bias against women among my peers who were involved in the selection process. Twenty years ago the first woman graduated from the residency in thoracic surgery that I headed, and now she is a highly regarded professor and a past president of the Southern Thoracic Surgical Assocation - a venerable, prestigious group. Recently, two leading university hospitals appointed the first women heads of their thoracic surgery programs., Progress in overcoming bias against women has been slow, sometimes painfully so. I am hopeful that such bias will eventually disappear, and I congratulate all the women who have contributed to overcoming discrimination against them because of their gender.

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