Equity in surgical leadership for women: more work to do

Am J Surg. 2014 Sep;208(3):494-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2013.11.005. Epub 2014 Apr 1.


Background: Sex disparity in the Program Director role has not been studied. The goal of this study is to evaluate the percentage of women in Chair and Program Director positions. We hypothesize that there is a higher percentage of women in the Program Director role than Chair role.

Methods: An Internet search identified Chairs, Program Directors, Associate Program Directors, and Division Chiefs. Statistical analysis compared percentages of women in these roles at all institutions, academic/community programs, and regions.

Results: There is higher female representation in the Program Director position than Chair position (P = .002) in General Surgery, Otolaryngology, and Orthopedics. More women are Associate Program Directors than Division Chiefs (23.6% vs 9.8%, P ≤ .001). Academic and community programs are no different. In the West, a greater percentage of women are Chairs as compared with the other regions (P ≤ .002).

Conclusions: There are higher rates of women in Program Director position than Department Chair position. This discrepancy warrants further investigation.

Keywords: Program Director; Sex disparity; Surgical leadership; Women in surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / organization & administration*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / statistics & numerical data
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Faculty, Medical / supply & distribution*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Physicians, Women / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians, Women / supply & distribution*
  • Sexism*
  • Specialties, Surgical / education*
  • Specialties, Surgical / organization & administration
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • United States