Gender Diversity In Hand Surgery Leadership
Alyssa K. Brisbin, BS1, Brandon T. Smith, BS1, Wendy Chen, MD, MS1, Marissa Baron, BS1, Francesco M. Egro, MD, MBChB, MSc, MRCS1, Vu Nguyen, MD1, Mark Baratz, MD1, Carolyn De La Cruz, MD1, Debra Bourne, MD2.
1University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 2University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
PURPOSE: Diversity drives innovation and progress. The percentage of women entering plastic and orthopedic surgery residency and specializing in hand surgery has been increasing. Across medical specialties, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. The aim of this study is to assess the current representation of men and women in leadership positions within hand surgery.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was performed. Hand surgeons included were program directors of Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)-accredited hand surgery fellowships and editorial board members of Hand Surgery peer reviewed journals. Surgeon gender was recorded and compared. Two-tailed Chi square test was used, significance was set at p<0.05.
RESULTS: Eleven hand and upper extremity journals were analyzed. Females represented 13.7% of 463 editorial board members (p<0.0001), and 9.68% of 28 editorial leadership positions (p<0.0001), which included Deputy Editor, Editor-in-Chief, and Founding Editor. Among 87 ACGME accredited Hand Surgery Fellowships, only 14.9% of Program Directors were female (p<0.0001).
CONCLUSION: As more women enter into surgical specialties, their representation in leadership positions has lagged behind. Diversity in leadership drives creative solutions and innovation. A leadership that resembles the composition of members of the societies they represent and readership of their journal will be better suited to serve their constituents. Exceptional women in medical school and residency may feel dissuaded from pursuing a career in hand surgery if they do not see female fellowship directors. The reasons women are less likely to acquire leadership positions are complicated and multifactorial. Women are at a disadvantage for networking and for finding and cultivating mentors and sponsors crucial to career advancement. They face gender bias (which is often implicit) that discourages them from becoming leaders because this is perceived as unfeminine and traditionally a male-dominated realm. Awareness of the current situation is the first step towards positive action.
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