Leadership in Academic Plastic Surgery: The Current State of Female Representation
Wendy Chen, MD, MS1, Marissa E. Baron, MPH2, Debra A. Bourne, MD1, Justine Kim, MD1, Kia M. Washington, MD1, Carolyn Delacruz, MD1.
1University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2University of Pittsburgh School of Medcine, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Background: 2017 marked the first year women comprised a majority of United States medical school matriculants. While more women are pursuing surgical training, within plastic surgery, there is a steady attrition of women advancing in academics and leadership. We aim to report the current status of women in academic plastic surgery, from trainees to chairwomen and national leadership positions. Methods: ERAS, SF match, NRMP, AAMC, ACAPS, PSEN, and professional websites for journals and national societies were accessed or contacted for demographic information for the last decade. Results: At the trainee level, in the integrated applicant pathway, the number of female applicants has remained relatively stable, at around 30%, but the proportion of female residents has increased, from 30% to 40%. In the independent pathway, the proportion of female applicants and residents has remained relatively stable, with three men to every woman. At the faculty level, from 2006 to 2016, there was an increase in female faculty members from 14.6% to 22.0%, an increase of <1% per year. Twelve percent of program directors are currently female, and 8.7% of department heads. Nationally, major professional societies and administrative boards were evaluated, including ASPS, ABPS, and the residency accreditation committee. For all committees, the proportion of female members ranged from 19% to 55%, with an average of 27.6%. For committee leaders, the proportion of women ranged from 0% to 50%, with an average of 21.5%. Presidents of these societies were historically led by men, with only six having a history of female presidents. Major journals were evaluated for composition of editorial boards. No journals had a female Editor-in-Chief. The proportion of female editorial board members ranged from 1% to 33%, with an average of 15.3%. Conclusions:Recent literature has shown patients of female physicians to have better outcomes, and even a preference of female patients for female plastic surgeons. However, when it comes to academic leadership, women lag behind. As with other women in surgery, women in plastic surgery share a cumulative career disadvantage (personal, networking, clinical, academic, etc). Upward mobility is a challenge, as is recruitment and retention. Our study shows a leak in the pipeline at all levels, from trainees to faculty, to leadership on the national stage. This report serves as a starting point for investigating reasons for this loss of talented women in plastic surgery leadership.
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