Asian Americans in leadership positions in academic surgery

Ann Surg. 2012 Mar;255(3):583-8. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3182471a7b.


Objective: To examine Asian American (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asian, Philippine and South Pacific Islands, and Middle East) representation in national organizations and editorial boards important in US academic surgery.

Background: Asian Americans are overrepresented in academic departments of surgery relative to their demographic proportion of US population. Not examined is their involvement in leadership positions in the field.

Study design: Current rosters were surveyed for surgeons with Asian American surnames with federally supported research, members of leading surgical specialty organizations, residency review committees for surgical specialties, surgical boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties, and editorial boards of leading surgical journals.

Results: Asian Americans are principal investigators in 18.9% of National Institutes of Health-supported grants in departments of surgery, and 7.7% of Society of University Surgeons and 3.2% of American Surgical Association memberships. Asian American representation on governing boards of professional organizations is only 2.3%, and none on the Boards of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, the various American Board of Medical Specialties surgical boards and councils, the residency review committees for surgery, and governing councils of 7 of 10 professional organizations. Of 302 US surgeons on the editorial boards of 5 leading surgical journals, 6 were Asian Americans (2.0%).

Conclusions: Asian American academic surgeons are absent from the governing boards of surgical organizations and peer-reviewed surgical journals, a situation that mentorship and the development of effective social networks though an Asian American surgeons' association may correct.

MeSH terms

  • Asian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Societies, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Specialties, Surgical*
  • United States