Objective: The objective of this study is to examine if women are less likely than men to receive surgery following work-related musculoskeletal injury in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Methods: The study included 2,403 workers with work-related knee meniscal tear, thoracic/lumbar disc displacement or rotator cuff tear. Probability of surgery was compared by gender using Kaplan–Meier methods and Cox proportional hazards models.

Results: For each injury type, a smaller proportion of women received surgery compared to men (knee: 76% vs. 80%; shoulder: 13% vs. 36%; back: 13% vs. 19%). In adjusted models, compared to men, women were 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI] [0.69, 1.09]), 0.35 (95% CI [0.25, 0.48]) and 0.54 (95% CI [0.31, 0.95]) times less likely to receive knee, shoulder or back surgery, respectively.

Conclusions: Probability of surgery following work-related musculoskeletal injury was lower for women than for men. Strategies to ensure gender equitable delivery of surgical services by workers' compensation systems may be warranted, although further research is necessary to investigate determinants of the gender difference and the impact of elective orthopaedic surgery on occupational outcomes.