Women in Academic Plastic Surgery: Have We Patched the Leaky Pipeline?
Golddy Saldana1, Amanda Spielman2, Rose Maisner3, Wendy Chen4
1University of California Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento, CA; 2University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL; 3Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ;4University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, TX
PURPOSE: Previous research has demonstrated a ‘leaky pipeline’ for women in academic plastic surgery, meaning female representation decreases with increasing leadership status. Additionally, women are increasingly applying to and training in plastic surgery. This analysis is the continuation of "Representation of Women in Plastic Surgery Leadership" by Wendy Chen MD, et al. In this study the authors investigated trends in female representation in academic plastic surgery over the last five years to assess the impact of recent efforts to promote diversity.
METHODS: For 2017-2022, gender distributions of applicants to plastic surgery residencies and faculty were obtained from the Electronic Residency Application Service and the Association of American Medical Colleges, respectively. Current program director and chief names were obtained from the American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons (ACAPS). The names of the 2021-2022 members of national societies and journal editorial boards were obtained from respective websites. Gender was determined from pronoun usage on faculty profiles, photographs, and names when self-identification was not explicitly provided.
RESULTS: From 2017-2022, the percentage of female applicants to the integrated pathway increased by 15%, while female residents only increased by 1.7%. From 2017-2022, the independent pathway experienced a 0.5% increase in female residents but a decrease in applicants. Overall, there was a 2.5% increase in women holding faculty positions.Eleven national societies were evaluated to determine the number of physician-only female committee members and leaders - ASPS, PSF, ABPS, AAPS, PSRC, ASAPS, ASRM, ASPN, RRC, ACAPS, and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. Percentage of female committee members ranged from 17- 45%, and female leaders from 0 - 45%.Eleven prominent journals were evaluated for editorial board positions - Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery, Microsurgery, Journal of Hand Surgery, Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Annals of Plastic Surgery, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Clinics in Plastic Surgery, Hand, and Journal of Craniofacial Surgery. Female membership ranged from 0-22.6%, with no women currently serving as editor-in-chief.
CONCLUSION: While female leadership has increased, there is significant fluctuation in the degree of female participation in and leadership of national committees and editorial boards. Moreover, the growing rate of female applicants is nearly nine times greater than that of entering female residents. Further research is needed to understand the factors causing a significant difference in the level of participation in professional societies and peer-reviewed journals.
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