All female members and a randomly selected group of male members of the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (n = 488) were surveyed by questionnaire as part of a broader study of gender issues in anaesthesia. This paper reports on reasons for career choice and the importance of role models. Responses were received from 199 women and 98 men (60.9% of those surveyed), representing all States and one Territory. Most males (95.9%) and a majority of females (55.7%) worked full-time. Reasons for career choice varied with gender, with a significantly greater proportion of women (39.7%) than men (8.7%) choosing anaesthesia because of controllable hours, particularly the ability to work part-time. Experiences in anaesthesia during internship and residency were important for 19.1% of women and 14.1% of men, although very few mentioned undergraduate exposure. Other important factors in career choice were the application of physiology and pharmacology in patient care, practical and procedural aspects of practice, and chance. A majority of women (56%) and men (55%) named specific role models who were influential and encouraging in their choice. These results are similar to those of other studies.