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Women Underrepresented in Plastic Surgery

Although women have comprised nearly half of U.S. medical school graduates over the past decade, they still may remain underrepresented among surgical residents and surgeons, reports a study in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery – Global Open®, an open access, peer reviewed, international journal focusing on global plastic and reconstructive surgery of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Though this study could not determine the reasons for these differences, possible explanations may include the perception of surgical culture and its impact on lifestyle.

The study's authors reviewed data published by the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education from 2000 to 2013 and abstracted the number of surgeons and surgical residents by sex, race/ethnicity and specialty. The researchers compared the ratio of female-to-male surgeons and residents, as well as the racial and ethnic composition of female surgeons between specialties to evaluate for potential differences. They also found the proportion of Asian female surgeons has increased across all specialties.

"We conducted the current study to assess recent trends of women trainees and physicians pursuing careers in plastic and reconstructive surgery to determine differences between this field and other surgical specialties," Carisa Cooney, MPH, Rachael M. Payne, BS, Charalampos Siotos, MD, Michele Manahan, MD, and Gedge Rosson, MD, write. "While females outnumber males in one surgical specialty (obstetrics and gynecology), the female-to-male ratio in neurosurgery, orthopedic surgery, and thoracic surgery is 1:10 or higher."

The study's findings showed the proportion of female surgeons among all female physicians has remained constant at 12-13% from 2000 to 2013, and the ratio of female-to-male surgeons and residents has increased over time in all surgical specialties. This discrepancy is lower among resident physicians. Currently, the female-to-male ratio of practicing surgeons in plastic surgery is approximately 1:5 with a smaller discrepancy among plastic surgery residents.

Even though the gender gap is narrowing, this study reveals that women are still underrepresented in most specialties, including plastic surgery. Evidence suggests this discrepancy appears to be less pronounced among practicing plastic surgeons and trainees. The study's co-authors state additional studies are needed to determine reasons for increased participation of women of all ethnicities in the various surgical specialties to ensure a diverse future workforce.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—Global Open® is published by Wolters Kluwer.

About PRS Global Open

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery—Global Open (PRS Global Open) is an open access, rigorously peer-reviewed, international journal focusing on global plastic and reconstructive surgery. PRS Global Open educates and supports plastic surgeons globally to provide the highest quality patient care and maintain professional and ethical standards through education, research, and advocacy.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 7,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 94 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery. 

About Wolters Kluwer

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(847) 228-9900
media@plasticsurgery.org

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