Diversity in Neurosurgery Task Force

Diversity in Neurosurgery Task Force

Welcome to Diversity in Neurosurgery Task Force page

The Diversity in Neurosurgery Task Force was created in September 2019 to address the prevailing glass ceiling in European Neurosurgery and foster an inclusive environment in which neurosurgeons from all genders, religions, sexual orientations, and backgrounds can thrive. Our goal is to identify the barriers holding individuals back in their career advancement and tackle them systematically.

The Diversity Task Force has its doors open to all individuals who wish to join and contribute to the progress of our challenging profession in an equitable way. All are welcome in our team!

Join us in Belgrade to meet inspirational leaders from diversity backgrounds!

  • Aneela Darbar, one of the first female neurosurgeons in Pakistan, championing global neurosurgery

  • Claire Karekezi, the first female neurosurgeon in Rwanda, launching the country´s first neuro-oncological center

  • Thomas Kapapa, a neurosurgeon with Malawi roots practicing in Germany, inspiring both patients and colleagues by operating in his wheelchair.



  • Diversity in Neurosurgery Task Force Members :

  • Silvia Hernández Durán, Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, Germany, Leader
  • Dorothee Mielke, Universitätsmedizin Göttingen, Germany, Co-Leader
  • Ellie Edlmann, University of Cambridge, England
  • Doortje Engel, Royal North Shore Hospital, Australia
  • Danica Grujicic, Klinicki centar Srbije, Serbia
  • Anke Hoellig, RWTH Aachen, Germany
  • Thomas Kapapa, Universitätsklinikum Ulm, Germany
  • Katrin Rabiei, NU-skujvarden, Sweden
  • Yu-Mi Ryang, Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch, Germany
  • Idoya Zazpe, Complejo Hospitalario de Navarra, Spain



  • Our Projects

    Diverse Leaders in Neurosurgery


    Welcome to our online repository: Diverse Leaders in Neurosurgery – Inspiring Europe. Here you will find selected biographies of trailblazers who have changed the face of European neurosurgery. To nominate your mentors to be included in this repository, please contact us

    Persecuted and expatriated, Alice Rosenstein not only pioneered neuroradiology and neurosurgery, but also championed gay rights in times of antisemitism and global war.

    Born in Germany in 1892 to Jewish parents, Alice Rosenstein is considered to be Germany’s first female neurosurgeon, and possibly even the world’s. However, due to her ethnoreligious background, her legacy was almost forgotten.

    Rosenstein trained under Otfrid Foerster during the 1920’s in Breslau (currently Wrocław, Poland). At the time, the city had evolved into a world-renowned neurological and neurosurgical center, attracting the likes of Wilder Penfield, Percival Bailey, and Paul Bucy. Under Foerster’s mentorship, Rosenstein contributed to the development of pneumoencephalography, while also performing her first neurosurgical procedures

    As a woman, becoming a surgeon and an academic was a great achievement; women were not allowed to study medicine in Germany until 1909, and they could not pursue a career in academic medicine until 1920.

    In 1929, Rosenstein moved to Frankfurt, where she directed the neuroradiology department at the newly created University Hospital’s Mental Clinic. In contrast to the United States, neurosurgery had not yet emerged as a separate discipline in Germany; furthermore, neurology and psychiatry were amalgamated under the term “mental health”. Thus, she was broadly trained in neurology, psychiatry, neuroradiology and neurosurgery. In Frankfurt, she performed over 70 neurosurgical procedures.

    The clinic’s director, Karl Kleist, was pejoratively called “King of Jews” by his colleagues for employing her and other Jewish doctors in an increasingly antisemitic Weimar Republic. With the rise of Nazism, she was fired in 1933 and migrated to the United States in 1934. Here, Rosenstein changed her name to Alice Rost and continued to work as a psychiatrist and surgeon at the Montefiore Hospital in New York City until 1943. After that, she joined the US-Army as a psychiatrist and neurologist, where she trained the first female unit. However, her most remarkable achievement here was her defence of lesbian soldiers.

    “Homosexuality ... is a certain bent of character and is part of the personality, but not an illness”, she declared, making her one of the most progressive captains to serve at the time. She believed that lesbian soldiers were not detrimental to the Women’s Army Corps and need not be discharged, thus giving the War Department Circular on homosexuality a more tolerant interpretation.

    Of Jewish heritage in times of German Nazism, training in an emerging surgical field, and championing gay tolerance in one of the most homophobic environments, Alice Rosenstein constitutes a role model in integrity and resiliency beyond neurosurgery.

    As the first female neurosurgeon of immigrant background in Sweden, Katrin Rabiei exemplifies resiliency and encourages others to pursue their career goals.



    Female Glass Ceiling


    Neurosurgery has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Despite advances in access to training positions and increased entry of women into the field, there remains a gross underrepresentation of women in leadership roles.

    It has been postulated that this lack of progression in female careers is due to organizational male-oriented cultures, where women are excluded from the necessary networking and mentoring required for advancing their careers.

    As Robert F. Spetzler said, “. Institutional accountability must be evaluated to ensure that the best and brightest candidates, regardless of gender, are recruited to neurosurgical programs to promote the health of our challenging but most satisfying profession.”

    For this reason, the EANS has created the Diversity Task Force – the aim is to characterize and systematically tackle the factors contributing to the female glass ceiling in European neurosurgery.


    Further reading

    Female Neurosurgeons in Europe – on a prevailing glass ceiling

    Tracking career paths of women in neurosurgery

    Women in Neurosurgery: Final Frontier of Career Women's Movement.



    Parenthood and Neurosurgery


    Members of the Diversity Task Force are currently working on a White Paper on how to combine Parenthood and Neurosurgery. The aim of this document is to serve as a non-binding guideline to integrate new parents into the neurosurgical workforce, without making the decision to have a family become an obstacle to career advancement.

    Sign up for updates!