How Dr. Lauren Matteini empowers women in spine, orthopedics and beyond


Building a community of women in medicine has been a priority for Lauren Matteini, MD, of Elgin, Ill.-based Fox Valley Orthopedics.

Dr. Matteini developed the Boss Lady Docs community during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the lack of connection among peers, she said on a recent episode of the "Becker's Spine and Orthopedic Podcast." The community eventually established in-person meetups and grew to 215 members in a group chat over the last three years. 

Only 10% of orthopedic surgeons are women, according to Medscape's "Physician Compensation Report 2023." Urology, cardiology, plastic surgery and radiology also have low female representation with fewer than 20% of women making up those specialties as well.

But Dr. Matteini said she has seen increased interest from women who want to go into spine surgery.

"I call myself a unicorn because I am truly a mythical creature in the world of spine," she said. "But there are a growing number of women going into spine. I am seeing that, and I think part of it is just seeing other women do it and knowing that you're capable of doing it. Some of the literature that's come out in different countries and in different areas in the U.S. are demonstrating that women surgeons have better outcomes, and I think that's extremely amazing to see."

She also emphasized the importance of her male colleagues and mentors who support her and encouraged other community initiatives to uplift women in medicine.

"I have male mentors and all male mentors because I am a solo woman in the Chicago area in regards to orthopedic spine," Dr. Matteini said. "So you can identify with your male mentors in spine even though you don't have female mentors, as I have, and really learned that spine surgery can be a way of your future if that's what you choose. There are certainly other ways to get into orthopedics. As a young woman, there is the Ruth Jackson Society that is all women orthopedic surgeons. There is a Perry initiative that may be in your neighborhood or your city, which encourages young women in both high school and college to go into the fields of engineering and orthopedics … It is not just a boys club, and we can truly be unicorns in our field."

Listen to the full conversation here.

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