Has the Increase of Women in Surgical Training Programs Led to a Concomitant Increase in Female Leadership Positions? A 10-Year Analysis
Christine Yin, MD, Phoebe B. McAuliffe, BA, Jocellie E. Marquez, MD, Kaitlin A. Monroig, BA, Olivia L. Hanson, BA, Annie L. Shroyer, MD, Tara L. Huston, MD, Sami U. Khan, MD.
Stony Brook University Hospital, Stony Brook, NY, USA.
Background: Women represent over half of incoming medical students in the United States, and, though still in the minority, are becoming increasingly well represented in surgical fields. The number of women in surgical leadership is even more disparate, but increasing as well. This study analyzes resident and leadership representation of women currently and over the past ten years within surgical specialties. Methods: Counts of residents and names of society leaders were collected from 2008 to 2018 in the following surgical specialties: general, plastic, cardiothoracic, vascular, orthopedic, neurologic, and urologic surgery. Leadership positions were defined as board seats on executive committees of the leading surgical society and governing board for that field. The proportions and rate of change of women in residency and leadership positions were compared using bivariate analysis and linear regression.
Results: The proportion of women in surgical leadership still lags behind women in surgical residency training across all specialties in our aggregate 10-year analysis (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 over the 10 year analysis period 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). Neither the difference in proportions between female residents and leaders nor the yearly growth of these groups for neurologic and orthopedic surgery were significant.
Conclusions: Women in plastic surgery training and leadership positions have shown the greatest increase over the 10 year study period compared to other surgical subspecialties, indicating a better concerted effort to decrease gender disparity. Increased efforts in inclusivity, leadership recruitment, and development across all specialities would be beneficial in continuing to close the gender gap.
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