If you listened to everybody when they talk about what surgery is like then most would swerve theatres from the offset. My experience was different. Perhaps I am biased because I am keen to pursue a career in surgery. However, these are some myths that I feel aren't true.
Surgeons are nasty
I actually found surgeons and their registrars to be extremely welcoming. The difficulty was finding them to ask if I could scrub in. I actually found it was other staff in theatres that were sometimes not welcoming were rude. They were purposefully obstructive on a few occasions. Even if you don't have a keen interest in surgery, I feel that turning up, introducing yourself, asking to scrub in and doing so goes a long way. If the surgeon doesn't allow you to take part (which most of the time they are happy to have help with the retractors at a minimum), you can ask them what they are doing and why.
The surgeons will embarrass you.
The most intense 'beasting' I've actually had is from a T&O registrar and not the principle surgeon themselves. Perhaps it's just luck? If I don't know the answer I'm quite frank and I say I don't know, I'll try and give an educated guess but if I don't know oh well, what's the worst that can happen?
Surgeons will make you stand in the corner.
If a surgeon has too many people around the table (usually 4+), then you are at the bottom of the ranks for scrubbing in. In my experience, watching from the end of the sterile field yields little to no benefit. I've done it once & won't do it again. If this is the case, excuse yourself and arrange to come/scrub into another case when there is room for you. It feels awkward, but I've been in theatre stood for close to 3-4 hours and essentially been a scarecrow. Those 3-4 hours could have been used for something more fruitful.
Surgeons are obnoxious
There is a personality type amongst surgeons that tends to be unapologetically direct, which can come across as obnoxious and somewhat intimidating. No doubt I think the level of confidence, particularly amongst surgeons tends to be a peg above other specialities. Still, I suppose it's part and parcel of being part of such a competitive field. I don't think competition is always such a bad thing, as it pushes the limits and the standard higher.
Surgery is a male-dominated area of medicine.
This actually doesn't bother me as much as people might think it does. The current surgeons/consultants reflect the admissions/practices/stereotypes going back 15 years. Most of the surgeries I scrubbed into either had a female consultant or a female registrar & not much fuss was made about them being either male or female.
Admittedly, I don't think surgery is filled with one particular persona. Some surgeons I met were very light of hand, introverted, tactile & approachable, and others quite the opposite. I think the ability to be unapologetically direct was the overarching quality or theme I found in the surgeons I met. For that reason, I think it can be perceived as an overly intimidating speciality.