Race, Gender, and International Medical Graduates: Leadership Trends in Academic Surgical Societies

Lilah F. Morris-Wiseman, Christina Cañez, Minerva A. Romero Arenas, Chiu Hsieh Hsu, Valentine N. Nfonsam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Non-White and female surgeons are underrepresented in academic surgery faculty. We hypothesized that the leadership of major U.S. regional and national general surgery societies reflects these same racial and gender disparities. We suspected that attending a medical school or residency program with academic prestige would be more common for surgeons from underrepresented backgrounds. Materials and Methods: Race/ethnicity and gender of the 2020-21 executive council members and 2012-21 society presidents of 25 major general surgery societies (7 regional, 18 national) was assessed. Academic prestige was determined by reputational top 25 programs, identified using U.S. News and World Report and Doximity rankings for medical school and residency, respectively. Results: Surgical society executive council members (n = 204) were predominantly White (75.5%) and male (67.2%). The 50 non-White council members were Asian (n = 37), Black (n = 7), and Latinx (n = 6). 14 (6.9%) were international medical graduates (IMGs). 56.4% attended a school or program ranked in the Top 25 (n = 115). Surgical society presidents 2012-21 (n = 242) have been mostly White (87.6%) and male (83.4%). Non-White, male surgical society presidents were Asian (n = 13), Black (n = 9), and Latino (n = 6). Of the 41 female surgery society presidents, 92.7% were White, 7.3% (n = 3) Asian, and none Black or Latina. 13 were IMGs (5.3%). 55.0% of society presidents attended Top 25 (n = 133) schools or programs. The three non-White, female presidents all attended Top 25 schools/programs (100%). Of the 15 unique individuals who were male, non-White presidents, 12 attended top 25 schools or programs (80%). Conclusion: Women, non-White surgeons, and IMGs are underrepresented in U.S. surgical society leadership. Increasing racial diversity in U.S. surgical society leadership may require intentionality in mentorship and sponsorship, particularly for surgeons who did not attend prestigious schools or programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-436
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Academic bias
  • International medical graduate
  • Surgery society leadership
  • Underrepresented in surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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