Orthopaedic Women's Link (OWL)





AOA OWL Networking Lunch

Supported byExtend Med and the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)

We welcome all AOA members (consultants and trainees) and junior doctors and medical students interested in a career in orthopaedics to join us at an OWL networking lunch:

  • When: 12–2pm AEST, Friday 14 May 2021
  • Where: Clarendon Function Room, Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre (MCEC)
  • Cost: $20 per person 

Limited spaces are available. See the flyer for more information.


Note: you will need to use your AOA account or make an AOA account prior to registering.

Webinar: Reversing the barriers to females becoming orthopaedic surgeons

Speakers and panellists will discuss the barriers that women in orthopaedics encounter, and those that female medical students see as blocking their path to the specialty, and will explore targeted efforts to promote gender diversity in orthopaedic surgery both within the Australian and international context.

This webinar is free to attend. 
  • When:  7.30pm–9pm AEST, Thursday 27 May 2021
More information and registration can be found on the webinars page.

OWL is an advocate for women in orthopaedics. OWL aims to encourage and support women through their orthopaedic careers, from as early as medical school, through to consultant level.

OWL also seeks to create visible role models, encourage women to pursue and complete orthopaedic surgical training, address education issues, monitor gender-related matters and statistics, and providing advice to women trying to overcome work-life challenges.

Sarah Watts initially conceived the idea of OWL as an organisation to support women in orthopaedic surgery in 2008/2009. Peter Steadman, who was the QLD Branch Chair was very supportive and took the idea to the AOA Board. Sarah was advised to put together a proposal and her sister designed the OWL logo. in 2010—2011 the AOA Board approved OWL as an affiliated group. 

The first OWL meeting was held in 2012 at the Sydney AOA ASM. Sarah enthusiastically printed flyers and made balloons, with Sue Liew giving the first presentation — thus, OWL was born. While OWL was recognised and supported by AOA and the membership, OWL was granted official status as an AOA committee in 2016 at the request of the OWL members. In 2018 the OWL membership voted to adopt a revised terms of reference for OWL to further establish a transparent and robust governance structure. 

For more information on OWL's history, please download the OWL chapter of A History of Orthopaedics in Australia 1980–2016.

OWL is currently addressing the following issues: radiation safety and pregnancy, return to work after maternity leave, international policies and organisations of same, and looking at training problems versus gender issues.

For further information and to seek OWL’s services please email owl@aoa.org.au

  • To advocate with regard gender issues, career support, training, flexibility and educational opportunities for women interested in pursuing a career in orthopaedic surgery

  • To provide leadership within the AOA by:

    • Aiming to represent the perspective of women on all AOA committees
    • Supporting the implementation of the AOA Diversity Strategy
  • To liaise with students in second and tertiary education, and junior doctors, to encourage and promote more women to pursue orthopaedic surgery as a career by:
    • Creating visible role models
    • Providing career advice opportunities
    • Providing educational opportunities 
  • To provide a mentorship for emerging leaders, trainees, junior doctors and medical students.
  • To evaluate gender specific issues in the field of orthopaedics, including:
    • Monitoring trends and statistics related to numbers of women training and working in orthopaedics
    • Identifying gender barriers in training and developing solutions to remove them
    • Identifying safety issues for female surgeons including radiation safety eg. breast cancer rate in female orthopaedic surgeons,
    • Specific health concerns for female patients eg. radiation concerns for scoliosis patients, prevention of ACL injuries in the female athlete
  • To develop strategies to address parental leave requirements within the profession, for example: 
    • Parental leave access and impact on training commitments
    • Health safety while pregnant including radiation minimisation strategies, utilisation of cement intraoperatively and needlestick injuries
    • Guidelines for on-call during pregnancy
    • Return to work planning and support
    • Collaboration across specialties, health jurisdictions (nationally and internationally) and aim for best practice guidelines.
  • To promote flexible training within the workplace and support AOA in developing models that allow for interrupted training, including:
    • Parental leave
    • Family members requiring heightened care (children, partners, parents)
    • Other leave requirements (sporting, personal medical care, public service, higher education) 
  • To work with RACS Women in Surgery in research and exploring solutions to the impact of:
    • Health risks in pregnancy
    • Operating theatre sessions and on-call in pregnancy
    • Return to work and support after parental leave d. Breastfeeding/expressing as a surgeon
  • To research the policies of other surgical groups both nationally and internationally with regard to leadership, selection, training, health and well-being of women in the surgical specialties and provide feedback to AOA for the purposes of policy development. 
To support our members where possible, AOA will provide facilities to assist mothers who are feeding an infant or expressing breastmilk, and to parents of preschool age children who attend AOA scientific meetings, COEs and other events.

Read the policy for more information.
The Orthopaedic Women’s Link (OWL) and Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA) invited all female (and those who identify as female) medical students from Australian medical schools, interns and PGY2 doctors currently working in Australian hospitals, to enter the inaugural OWL Essay.

We aim to promote diversity amongst orthopaedic surgeons and provide a platform for communication to increase the representation of women in orthopaedic training, teaching, research, and leadership.

Congratulations Kathlyn Andersen (VIC medical student, University of Notre Dame, Ballarat Clinical School) for being selected as the overall winner for the 2020 OWL Essay. Read 'The Lifecycle of the Orthopod' and Q and A.

Highly commended
A highly commended winner was chosen from each state where the highest essays were marked. Congratulations to all recipients:
  • Madeline Temple (NSW intern, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital)
  • Natasha Abeysekera (QLD intern, Royal Brisbane & Women's Hospital)
  • Evelyn Axelby (SA medical student, University of Adelaide)
  • Jessica Paynter (VIC intern, Bendigo Health)

OWL representatives


Chair: Juliette Gentle

NSW/ACT: Lynette Reece


QLD: Danielle Wadley 


VIC/TAS: Avanthi Mandaleson

WA: Madeleine Jolley

AORA: Lily Garcia

Co-opted Board representative: Chris Morrey

Champions of Change: Andrew Wines

Co-opted member: Ian Incoll

  • Jennifer Green 2018–2020
  • Michelle Atkinson 2016—2018
  • Sarah Watts 2012—2016
    • Canberra 2019: AVM Tracy Smart and Commodore Michele Miller
    • Perth 2018: Professor Fiona Wood
    • Adelaide 2017: Chris Castle & Rekha Ganeshalingam
    • Cairns 2016: Sarah Coll
    • Brisbane 2015: Sheanna Maine
    • Melbourne 2014: Annette Holian
    • Darwin 2013: Sarah Watts
    • Sydney 2012: Sue Liew

    Articles of interest about the following topics: