Female Representation in Orthopaedic Surgery and Primary Care Sports Medicine Subspecialties: Where We Were, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going
Keywords:Sports medicine, Orthopedic respresentation, Females in sports medicine
Since the United States’ first woman began medical school less than two centuries ago, medicine has become increasingly gender diverse. Women now make up the current majority of medical students and are predominant in fields such as pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, child and adolescent psychiatry and neonatal-perinatal medicine. Despite this progress, representation of women in many medical subspecialties, such as orthopaedic surgery sports medicine and primary care sports medicine is still consistent with historic origins of gender inequality. In 2018, women made up only 5.3% of orthopaedic surgeons and 12.1% of orthopaedic surgery sports medicine residents and fellows. Similarly, data from 2019 suggest 27.2% of family medicine sports medicine physicians are women. Female representation in positions of leadership within these subspecialties highlight further inequalities. Through current initiatives to provide early exposure and mentorship to prospective residency applicants, there have been small advances in diversifying these fields. However, these advances have been largely inadequate for women of minority and marginalized groups. Adequate female representation is paramount to gain the benefits field diversification presents, including accessible representation, provider advocacy, prioritization of women’s health, mentorship, and diverse thought and innovation. By simultaneously analyzing the historic barriers facing women in operative and nonoperative fields of sports medicine, and the benefits of gender diversity for patient care, we can recommend actions necessary in promoting gender diversity moving forward.
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