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The Journal of bone and joint surgery. American volume


BACKGROUND: Multiple investigations in the past 50 years have documented a lack of racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the orthopaedic surgery workforce when compared with other specialties. Studies in other industries suggest that diversification of leadership can help diversify the underlying workforce. This study investigates changes in racial/ethnic and gender diversity of orthopaedic surgery leadership from 2007 to 2019 and compares leadership diversity to that of other surgical and nonsurgical specialties, specifically in terms of chairpersons and program directors.

METHODS: Demographic data were collected from The Journal of the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. Aggregate data were utilized to determine the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of academic leadership for 8 surgical and nonsurgical specialties in 2007 and 2019. Comparative analysis was conducted to identify changes in diversity among chairpersons between the 2 years. Furthermore, current levels of diversity in orthopaedic leadership were compared with those of other specialties.

RESULTS: A comparative analysis of diversity among program directors revealed that orthopaedic surgery had significantly lower minority representation (20.5%) when compared with the nonsurgical specialties (adjusted p < 0.01 for all) and, with the exception of neurological surgery, had the lowest proportion of female program directors overall, at 9.0% (adjusted p < 0.001 for all). From 2007 to 2019, orthopaedic surgery experienced no change in minority representation among chairpersons (adjusted p = 0.73) but a significant increase in female representation among chairpersons, from 0.0% (0 of 102) to 4.1% (5 of 122) (adjusted p = 0.04). Lastly, a significant decrease in minority and female representation was observed when comparing the diversity of 2019 orthopaedic faculty to orthopaedic leadership in 2019/2020 (p < 0.05 for all).

CONCLUSIONS: Diversity in orthopaedic surgery leadership has improved on some key fronts, specifically in gender diversity among chairpersons. However, a significant decrease in minority and gender representation was observed between 2019 orthopaedic faculty and 2019/2020 orthopaedic leadership (p < 0.05), which was a trend shared by other specialties. These findings may suggest a more pervasive problem in diversity of medical leadership that is not only limited to orthopaedic surgery.

Medical Subject Headings

Ethnicity; Female; Humans; Leadership; Orthopedic Procedures; Orthopedics; Racial Groups; United States

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