Women in academic surgery over the last four decades

PLoS One. 2020 Dec 16;15(12):e0243308. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243308. eCollection 2020.


OBJECTIVE: As the number of female medical students and surgical residents increases, the increasing number of female academic surgeons has been disproportionate. The purpose of this brief report is to evaluate the AAMC data from 1969 to 2018 to compare the level of female academic faculty representation for surgical specialties over the past four decades.

DESIGN: The number of women as a percentage of the total surgeons per year were recorded for each year from 1969-2018, the most recent year available. Descriptive statistics were performed. Poisson regression examined the percentage of women in each field as the outcome of interest with the year and specialty (using general surgery as a reference) as two predictor variables.

SETTING: Data from the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC).

PARTICIPANTS: All full-time academic faculty physicians in the specialties of obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), general surgery, ophthalmology, otolaryngology (ENT), plastic surgery, plastic surgery, urology, neurosurgery, orthopaedic surgery and cardiothoracic surgery as per AAMC records.

RESULTS: The percentage of women in surgery for all specialties evaluated increased from 1969 to 2018 (OR 1.04, p<0.001). Compared with general surgery, the rate of yearly percentage change increased more slowly in neurosurgery (OR 0.84; P = .004), orthopaedic surgery (OR 0.82; P = .002), urology (OR 0.59; P < .001), and cardiothoracic surgery (OR 0.38; P < .001). There was no significant difference in the rate of yearly percentage change for plastic surgery (OR 1.01; P = .840). The rate of yearly percentage change increased more rapidly in OB/GYN (OR 2.86; P < .001), ophthalmology (OR 1.79; P < .001) and ENT (OR 1.70; P < .001).

CONCLUSIONS: Representation of women in academic surgery is increasing overall but is increasing more slowly in orthopaedic surgery, neurosurgery, cardiothoracic surgery and urology compared with that in general surgery. These data may be used to inform and further the discussion of how mentorship and sponsorship of female students and trainees interested in surgical careers may improve gender equity in the future.

PMID:33326486 | PMC:PMC7743929 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0243308

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