Gender and ethnic diversity in academic general surgery department leadership

Al Faraaz Kassam, Meredith Taylor, Alexander R. Cortez, Leah K. Winer, Ralph C. Quillin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Diversity in surgery has been shown to improve mentorship and patient care. Diversity has improved among general surgery (GS) trainees but is not the case for departmental leadership. We analyzed the race and gender distributions across leadership positions at academic GS programs. Methods: Academic GS programs (n = 118) listed by the Fellowship and Residency Electronic Interactive Database Access system were included. Leadership positions were ascertained from department websites. Gender and race were determined through publicly provided data. Results: Ninety-two (79.3%) department chairs were white and 99 (85.3%) were men. Additionally, 88 (74.6%) program directors and 34 (77.3%) vice-chairs of education were men. A higher proportion of associate program directors were women (38.5%). Of 787 division-chiefs, 73.4% were white. Only trauma had >10% representation from minority surgeons. Women represented >10% of division chiefs in colorectal, thoracic, pediatric, and plastic/burn surgery. Conclusion: Diversity among GS trainees is not yet reflected in departmental leadership. Effort is needed to improve disparities in representation across leadership roles. Brief Summary: While general surgery trainees have become increasingly diverse, this improvement is not yet reflected in departmental leadership. Currently, more women serve as associate program directors than other leadership positions. However, only 4 specialties have >10% representation from women as division chiefs and only trauma/ACS had >10% representation from any underrepresented minorities. This highlights the lack of diversity and the need for increased representation in general surgery leadership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-368
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Diversity
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • General surgery
  • Leadership
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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