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US women in thoracic surgery: reflections on the past and opportunities for the future.
Preventza O, Backhus L. US women in thoracic surgery: reflections on the past and opportunities for the future. Journal of thoracic disease. 2021 Jan 1; 13(1):473-479.
Herein, we examine the state of women in thoracic surgery from the United States (US) perspective in terms of our past, present, and opportunities for the future. We explore the achievements of the first three women certified in thoracic surgery in 1961 and describe the progress made resulting in the current state. Women constitute slightly more than 50% of all medical students in the US, yet women remain underrepresented in thoracic surgery. The disparity is most notable for female representation in senior academic leadership positions, reflecting stagnation in progress. The lack of gender equity has important implications for projected workforce shortages and patient safety in cardiothoracic surgery. Recent organized efforts in scholarships and leadership training, as well as increasing awareness and mentorship, may herald progress on the horizon. Ultimately, however, engagement of leadership and top-down change are needed to achieve equity and, thereby, to improve patient health and satisfaction.