Has the Increase of Women in Surgical Training Programs Led to a Concomitant Increase in Female Leadership Positions? A 10-Year Analysis

Ann Plast Surg. 2023 Apr 1;90(4):376-379. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000002807.


INTRODUCTION: Women represent greater than 50% of medical students in America and are becoming increasingly well represented in surgical fields. However, parity at the trainee level has yet to be accomplished, and surgical leadership positions have remained disproportionately biased toward men. To date, there have been no comparisons on the progress within plastic surgery and other surgical specialties. This investigates the gender disparity in resident and leadership representation over the past 10 years within surgical specialties and how these disparities compare to plastic surgery.

METHODS: Counts of female and male residents and surgical society leaders were collected from 2008 to 2018. Surgical fields included plastic, vascular, urologic, neurologic, orthopedic, cardiothoracic, and general surgery. Leadership positions were defined as board seats on executive committees of major surgical societies or board associations. Data were acquired from publicly available sources or provided directly from the organizations. Resident data were obtained from the Accreditation Council of Graduate Medical Education residents’ reports. Individuals holding more than 1 leadership position within a year were counted only once.

RESULTS: In our aggregated analysis, the proportion of women in surgical leadership lags behind women in surgical residency training across all specialties (13.2% vs 27.3%, P < 0.01). General surgery had the highest proportion of female residents and leaders (35% and 18.8%, P < 0.01), followed by plastic (32.2% and 17.3%, P < 0.01), vascular (28.2% and 11.3%, P < 0.01), urologic (24.3% and 5.1%), and cardiothoracic surgery (20.5% and 7.8%, P < 0.01). Women in surgical leadership, however, increased at a faster rate than women in surgical training (11% vs 7%, P < 0.05). Plastic surgery showed the greatest rate of increase in both residents and leaders (17% and 19%, P < 0.05) followed by cardiothoracic surgery (16% and 9%, P < 0.05) and general surgery (8% and 14%, P < 0.05). For neurologic and orthopedic surgery, neither the difference in proportions between residents and leaders nor the yearly growth of these groups were significant.

CONCLUSIONS: Between 2008 and 2018, women in plastic surgery training and leadership positions have shown the most significant growth compared with other surgical subspecialties, demonstrating a strong concerted effort toward gender equality among surgical professions.

PMID:37093772 | DOI:10.1097/SAP.0000000000002807

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