American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Selected Speakers at Plastic Surgery Conferences
Grace Ha, MD1; Paige Mclean, MD2; Meera Reghunathan, MD2; Sohrab Vatsia, BS1; Amanda Gosman, MD2
1Donald and Barbara Zucker SOM at Hofstra/Northwell, 2Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, University of California, San Diego

Background: Disparities in representation amongst plastic surgeons continue to persist at multiple levels, including the resident selection process, retention in residency, and advancement in plastic surgery careers. Within the last decade, the proportion of female trainees in plastic surgery has improved, yet similar progress has not been made in the representation of racial minorities. The objective is to evaluate racial and ethnic representation amongst plastic surgeons who are selected to speak at national/regional plastic surgery conferences
Methods: The researchers evaluated selected speakers at eleven meetings (AAHS, AAPS, ASAPS, ASCFS, ASRM, CSPS, NESPS, OVSPS, PSRC, SESPRS, TSPS) over seven years (2014-2020). Speakers were identified as moderators, panelists, lecturers, and instructors. After speakers were identified, information was collected on speaker gender, fellowship, and years since board certification. Race and ethnicity were primarily determined by speaker surname and online photograph using a two-person evaluator method and, when possible, through online confirmation methods. Racial and ethnic distribution in selected speakers at conferences were compared with AAMC reports of medical school graduates, plastic surgery residents, and practicing plastic surgeons.
Results: There were a total of 72 meetings for which speaker information was fully accessible. Of these 72 meetings, there were 4165 total speaking opportunities and 886 unique speakers. Of these 886 unique speakers, 695 speakers (78.4%) were determined to be White, 138 (15.6%) speakers Asian, 17 (1.9%) speakers Black or African American, 27 (3.1%) speakers Hispanic, Latinx, or Spanish origin, 9 (1.0%) other. While the combined percentage of underrepresented minorities was 15.2% in matriculating medical students, 8.9% in active PRS residents, and 8.3% in practicing PRS physicians, that of invited conference speakers was 5%. Within racial/ethnic groups of invited speakers, there was no significant difference in number of fellowships completed (p=0.13)
Conclusion: Given the results of the study, the researchers conclude that racial minorities are disproportionately underrepresented as selected speakers at plastic surgery conferences, despite similarities in qualifications such as fellowship training. Overall, the study’s results indicate a need for proactive measures in the field to increase awareness of racial/ethnic disparity and initiate speaker selection methods that support diversity, equity, and inclusion.


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