Representation of women in vascular surgery science and societies

J Vasc Surg. 2021 Aug;74(2S):15S-20S. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2021.03.056.


Objective: Medical schools and surgical residencies have seen an increase in the proportion of female matriculants, with 30% of current vascular surgery trainees being women over the past decade. There is widespread focus on increasing diversity in medicine and surgery in an effort to provide optimal quality of patient care and the advancement of science. The presence of gender diversity and opportunities to identify with women in leadership positions positively correlates with women choosing to enter traditionally male-dominated fields. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the representation of women in regional and national vascular surgical societies over the last 20 years.

Methods: A retrospective review of the meeting programs of vascular surgery societies was performed. Data were collected on abstract presenters, moderators, committee members and chairs, and officers (president, president-elect, vice president, secretary, and treasurer). The data were divided into early (1999-2009) and late (2010-2019) time periods.

Results: Five regional and five national societies' data were analyzed, including 139 meetings. The mean percentage of female abstract presenters increased significantly from 10.9% in the early period to 20.6% in the late period (P < .001). Female senior authors increased slightly from 8.7% to 11.5%, but this change was not statistically significant (P = .22). Female meeting moderators increased significantly from 7.8% to 17.2% (P < .001), as well as female committee members increased from 10.9% to 20.3% (P = .003). Female committee chairs increased slightly from 10.9% to 16.9%, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = .13). Female society officers increased considerably from 6.4% to 14.8%. (P = .002). Significant variation was noted between societies, with five societies (three regional and two national) having less than 10% women at the officer level in 2019. There was a wide variation noted between societies in the percentage of female abstract presenters (range, 7.6%-34.9%), senior authors (3.9%-17.9%), and meeting moderators (5.4%-40.7%).

Conclusions: Over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in the representation of women in vascular surgery societies among those presenting scientific work, serving as meeting moderators, and serving as committee members. However, the representation of women among committee chairs, senior authors, and society leadership has not kept up pace with the increase noted at other levels. Efforts to recruit women into the field of vascular surgery as well as to support the professional development of female vascular surgeons are facilitated by the presence of women in leadership roles. Increasing the representation of women in vascular society leadership positions may be a key strategy in promoting gender diversity in the vascular surgery field.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees / trends
  • Committee Membership
  • Congresses as Topic / trends
  • Female
  • Gender Equity*
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Physicians, Women / trends*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Sexism / trends*
  • Societies, Medical / trends*
  • Surgeons / education
  • Surgeons / trends*
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / education
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures / trends*