Leadership Diversity in the Association of Program Directors in Surgery: A Report of Progress

Lilah F. Morris-Wiseman, Daniel Dent, Valentine N. Nfonsam, Tania K. Arora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Across the last several years, numerous surgical departments and societies have focused on addressing the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the field. Since the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS) Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce was created in 2017 (and solidified as a formal committee in 2018, herein referred to as the APDS-DIC), it has sought to address gaps in diversity at various phases of training and development from medical student to surgical leader. Objective: In follow-up to a 2018 study that benchmarked leadership demographics of the APDS, this study analyzed how the APDS’ efforts have aligned with recommended DEI strategies and whether this produced demographic changes in organizational leadership. Methods: Fifteen years (2008-2022) of publicly available APDS annual meeting program data and APDS membership lists were analyzed. Leadership positions in the organization were examined by officer, program/vice chair, executive committee, and board of directors. A 2-tailed T-test compared differences in the average proportion of leaders from specific demographic groups before and after the APDS-DIC inception (2008-2016 vs. 2017-2022). Results: APDS has 724 unique faculty and 140 resident members. The majority of both groups identified as White (68% of faculty and 58% of residents). Over 15 years, there have been 307 available leadership positions held by 67 individuals. All presidents and president-elect positions have been held by White surgeons; nearly 80% have been men. The average proportion of female leaders and the average proportion of racial/ethnic minority leaders were both significantly higher after implementation of the APDS-DIC in 2017 (p=0.0009 for gender and p=0.036 for racial/ethnic minorities). Conclusions: The APDS’ commitment to DEI efforts and establishment of the APDS-DIC in 2017 was associated with a significant increase in women and non-White minorities in organizational leadership positions. The specific role of the APDS-DIC in propelling surgeons from underrepresented groups into leadership and promoting key DEI efforts is broadly applicable to other surgical organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e109-e115
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • DEI committee
  • diversity
  • inclusion
  • leadership
  • surgical societies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

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