Katherine M Gerull, BA1, Brandon M Wahba, BS1, Jared McAllister, MD1, Andrew S Wright, MD2, Amalia Cochran, MD, MA3, Arghavan Salles, MD, PhD1. 1Washington University in St. Louis, 2University of Washington, 3University of Utah
INTRODUCTION: Nearly half of medical students are women; however, women remain under-represented in surgical training. Within surgery, approximately 1/3 of trainees are women, yet women remain under-represented as faculty and leaders at academic medical centers. There are a number of factors that may disadvantage women pursuing academic surgical careers. Here, we focus on one factor: the representation of women at surgical conferences.
METHODS AND PROCEDURES: We gathered membership data from six national surgical societies—The American College of Surgeons, Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons, Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract, American Surgical Association, American Association for Thoracic Surgery, and American Pediatric Surgical Association. For each society, we then assessed the proportion of members who were female in 2011 and 2016. For the same years, we examined the annual conference proceedings for each society to identify the gender of invited speakers such as plenary speakers, panelists, or moderators. Speakers presenting peer-reviewed research were excluded. We then used chi-squared tests to compare the proportion of female speakers to the proportion of women among the membership of each society. We defined “all male sessions” as those in which there were 2 or more speakers, all of whom were male.
RESULTS: Across all societies, mean female membership increased from 2011 to 2016 (14.8% to 17.0%) with variable changes in the rates of female speakers between the 2 years (Table 1). When compared to baseline membership rates, 8 of 12 examined conferences had lower than baseline representation of women in plenary speaking roles . This included 3/6 societies with zero women as plenary speakers, despite non-zero rates of female membership. Representation of women in moderator/panelist roles varied widely when compared to baseline membership rates, including underrepresentation in moderator/panelist roles in Society F (-4.0% in 2011, p=0.03) to overrepresentation in Society D (+9.1% in 2016, p=0.002) and Society E (+13.5% in 2016, p=0.002).
CONCLUSIONS: These data show that, with some exceptions, women tend to be under-represented in invited speaker roles in this sample of national surgical conferences. Increasing female representation in surgery can lead to more diversity of thought and experience within surgical departments, ultimately generating novel research ideas and improving patient care. In order to increase opportunities for women within academic surgery, societies should follow the example of Societies D and E in increasing visibility of women at surgical conferences.
Table 1: Membership and conference representation in 6 surgical societies
Presented at the SAGES 2017 Annual Meeting in Houston, TX.
Abstract ID: 88208
Program Number: S104
Presentation Session: Diversity and Innovation Session
Presentation Type: Podium