A 5-Year Review of the Designated Leadership Positions of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH)

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Purpose: Despite near equal representation of women in medical schools since 2008, the percentage of women in surgical subspecialties has remained low. Hand surgery accounts for one of the highest percentages of women, at 19%. Ascension to leadership positions has not yet been fully studied among this group. Our study examined whether increased female representation translated to representation at different levels within the organization. Methods: The 2014 to 2018 membership rosters were obtained from the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) and compared by gender. Leadership and volunteer committee positions were evaluated as published in the annual ASSH Committee Reference Book. Leadership positions were defined as appointment to committee chair or Council or acceptance to the Young Leaders Program. Rates of engagement were compared for each of the leadership activities. When available, the time for advancement through various leadership positions was also analyzed by gender. Results: Between 2014 and 2018, the percentage of female ASSH Active Members steadily increased from 11% to 14%. Engagement in early career activities such as committees and the Young Leaders Program also increased: committee positions from 16% to 17% and Young Leaders Program membership from 27% to 40% female representation across the same period. Relative to the overall number of eligible females in the society, women applied at a greater rate and achieved positions at an average of 2 years earlier than their male counterparts. Conclusions: There is a steady increase in the percentage of women within the ASSH. Female ASSH members applied for early career leadership positions at a higher rate and achieved these positions earlier than their male counterparts. This may indicate that future women leaders are appropriately supported in the organization. Clinical relevance: The ASSH has been committed to increasing gender and ethnic diversity. Early analysis demonstrates an increase in women surgeons’ participation in early career leadership activities within the society.

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