The year 2017 marked the first year women comprised a majority of U.S. medical school matriculants. While more women are pursuing surgical training, within plastic surgery, there is a steady attrition of women advancing in leadership roles. The authors report the current status of women in academic plastic surgery, from trainees to chairwomen and national leadership positions.
The Electronic Residency Applications Service, San Francisco Match, National Resident Matching Program, Association of American Medical Colleges, American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons, Plastic Surgery Education Network, and professional websites for journals and national societies were accessed for demographic information from 2007 to 2017.
The number of female integrated pathway applicants remained stable (30 percent), with an increased proportion of female residents from 30 percent to 40 percent. There was an increase in female faculty members from 14.6 percent to 22.0 percent, an increase of less than 1 percent per year. Twelve percent of program directors and 8.7 percent of department heads were women. Nationally, major professional societies and administrative boards demonstrated a proportion of female members ranging from 19 percent to 55 percent (average, 27.7 percent). The proportion of female committee leaders ranged from 0 percent to 50 percent (average, 21.5 percent). Only six societies have had female presidents. No major journal had had a female editor-in-chief. The proportion of female editorial board members ranged from 1 percent to 33 percent (average, 16.1 percent).
The authors’ study shows a leak in the pipeline at all levels, from trainees to faculty to leadership on the national stage. This report serves as a starting point for investigating reasons for the underrepresentation of talented women in plastic surgery leadership.