World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 38–44 | Cite as

Mentorship as Experienced by Women Surgeons in Japan

  • Kyoko YorozuyaEmail author
  • Kazumi Kawase
  • Sadako Akashi-Tanaka
  • Chizuko Kanbayashi
  • Sachiyo Nomura
  • Yasuko Tomizawa
Original Scientific Report



Women have accounted for over 30 % of new medical students since 1995 in Japan. Establishing support systems for women surgeons to continue their work is a major issue in Japan. Mentorship can be one of the most effective means to help women surgeons to continue their work. The purpose of this study was to clarify the current status of mentorship among Japanese women surgeons and to discuss the role of mentors for women surgeons.


Invitation letters were sent to all female members of the Japan Association of Women Surgeons in April 2011. An 84-item questionnaire survey was sent to those who agreed to participate in this study via the internet.


Fifty-five surgeons participated in this study, a response rate of 48.7 %. Sixty-seven percent of respondents found it difficult to continue in their job; 85 % thought mentorship was necessary for women surgeons to progress in their careers; and 84 % reported that they already had a mentor. Respondents thought that a mentor helped them to advance their clinical career, to stay in their job, and to provide moral support. However, mentors appeared to be less useful in helping them to advance their research career, to network, to increase their status, and to achieve a work–life balance.


This study revealed areas where mentors appeared to be less helpful to women surgeons. The survey gave an indication of how to help improve and develop the career and personal life of women surgeons in Japan.


Career Advancement Life Balance Female Doctor Moral Support Senior Doctor 
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This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI (Multi-year fund) Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) Grant Number 23510356. Part of this work was presented by Kyoko Yorozuya at International Surgical Week 2011 in Yokohama, Japan, on September 29, 2011. The authors appreciate the cooperation of members of the Japan Association of Women Surgeons as well as the help provided by Medical Management Co.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyoko Yorozuya
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kazumi Kawase
    • 2
  • Sadako Akashi-Tanaka
    • 3
  • Chizuko Kanbayashi
    • 4
  • Sachiyo Nomura
    • 5
  • Yasuko Tomizawa
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryKawasaki Municipal HospitalKawasakiJapan
  2. 2.Department of SurgeryThe Jikei University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Breast Surgery, School of MedicineShowa University HospitalTokyoJapan
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryNiigata Cancer Center HospitalNiigataJapan
  5. 5.Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Graduate School of MedicineThe University of TokyoTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, School of MedicineTokyo Women’s Medical UniversityTokyoJapan

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