Is There Color or Sex Behind the Mask and Sterile Blue? Examining Sex and Racial Demographics Within Academic Surgery

Ann Surg. 2021 Jan 1;273(1):21-27. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004461.


BACKGROUND: The lack of underrepresented minorities has been a persistent issue within the surgical workforce. Equal sex representation has also been a problem in surgery. Underrepresented minorities females face the unique challenge of being a minority in both race and sex.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this retrospective cross-sectional study is to determine the racial and sex demographics of medical trainees and faculty and determine the degree to which minority women are underrepresented at higher ranks and leadership.

METHODS: Race and sex demographic data for all medical students, surgical residents and faculty was extracted from the AAMC data files. This data was compared to the US population using chi squared tests. Race and sex breakdowns of the different surgical subspecialties was also analyzed using chi squared tests. Demographics of surgical faculty at various ranks are also reported.

RESULTS: White men made up 37% of all surgical residents. Black men made up only 1.9% of all surgical residents whereas Black women made up 2.6%. The subspecialty with the smallest percentage of Black women was Orthopedic Surgery with 0.6%. The specialty with the highest representation of Black women was Ob/Gyn with 6.2%. There was a decrease in representation of Black women with each increase in professional rank, with 2.8%, 1.6%, and 0.7% for assistant, associate, and full professor, respectively, as compared to Black men, who as a percentage, remained stable at the various ranks with 2.1%, 2.4%, and 2.1% for assistant, associate, and full professor, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a striking lack of minority women in surgery. This trend is amplified as surgeons progress from student, to resident, to attending, and then to leadership positions.

PMID:32956175 | DOI:10.1097/SLA.0000000000004461

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