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J Am Coll Surg. 2011 Mar;212(3):320-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2010.11.008. Epub 2011 Jan 17.

Women in surgery residency programs: evolving trends from a national perspective.

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  • 1American College of Surgeons, Chicago, IL, USA.



Similar numbers of men and women are currently graduating from United States (US) medical schools; therefore, surgery residency programs need to attract graduates of both genders. This study compared gender distributions of allopathic US medical graduates (USMG) from academic years 1999-2000 through 2004-2005. In addition, the gender distributions of USMG and international medical graduates (IMG; analyzed separately) entering accredited general surgery (GS) programs and USMG entering other surgical specialty programs were compared across academic years 2000-2001 through 2005-2006.


Data were extracted from the American College of Surgeons Resident Master File and the Association of American Medical Colleges FACTS Website and Data Warehouse. Chi-square statistics compared gender distributions across years for all USMG graduating and applying to GS programs each year between 1999-2000 and 2004-2005 and for USMG and IMG entering training between 2000-2001 and 2005-2006.


During the study period, the proportion of women increased significantly (p < 0.001) among USMG (43% to 47%), USMG applying to GS programs (27% to 33%), and USMG entering GS residencies (32% to 40%); the percentages of women among IMG entering GS residencies ranged from 11% to 18%, with no apparent linear increase. Proportions of women among USMG entering training increased in most surgical specialties examined.


The gender gap among USMG entering GS training appears to be closing, concurrent with that of USMG overall during the study period. Surgery programs must continue to recruit and retain women to attract the best and brightest trainees.

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