Secondary Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Female Representation and Implicit Gender Bias at the 2017 American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons’ Annual Scientific and Tripartite Meeting

Davids, Jennifer S., M.D.1; Lyu, Heather G., M.D.2; Hoang, Chau M., M.D., M.S.C.I.1; Daniel, Vijaya T., M.D., M.P.H.1; Scully, Rebecca E., M.D., M.P.H.2; Xu, Ting Y., M.D.1; Phatak, Uma R., M.D., M.P.H.3; Damle, Aneel, M.D., M.B.A.4; Melnitchouk, Nelya, M.D., M.Sc.2

Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: March 2019 - Volume 62 - Issue 3 - p 357–362
doi: 10.1097/DCR.0000000000001274
Original Contributions: Socioeconomic
Denotes Associated Video Abstract
Denotes Twitter Account Access

BACKGROUND: Women surgeons are underrepresented in academic surgery and may be subject to implicit gender bias. In colorectal surgery, women comprise 42% of new graduates, but only 19% of Diplomates in the United States.

OBJECTIVE: We evaluated the representation of women at the 2017 American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons Scientific and Tripartite Meeting and assessed for implicit gender bias.

DESIGN: This was a prospective observational study.

SETTING: The study occurred at the 2017 Tripartite Meeting.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measured was the percentage of women in the formal program relative to conference attendees and forms of address.

METHODS: Female program representation was quantified by role (moderator or speaker), session type, and topic. Introductions of speakers by moderators were classified as formal (using a professional title) or informal (using name only), and further stratified by gender.

RESULTS: Overall, 31% of meeting attendees who are ASCRS members were women, with higher percentages of women as Candidates (44%) and Members (35%) compared with Fellows (24%). Women comprised 28% of moderators (n = 26) and 28% of speakers (n = 80). The highest percentage of women moderators and speakers was in education (48%) and the lowest was in techniques and technology (17%). In the 41 of 47 sessions evaluated, female moderators were more likely than male moderators to use formal introductions (68.7% vs 54.0%, p = 0.02). There was no difference when female moderators formally introduced female versus male speakers (73.9% vs 66.7%, p = 0.52); however, male moderators were significantly less likely to formally introduce a female versus male speaker (36.4% vs 59.2%, p = 0.003).

LIMITATIONS: Yearly program gender composition may fluctuate. Low numbers in certain areas limit interpretability. Other factors potentially influenced speaker introductions.

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, program representation of women was similar to meeting demographics, although with low numbers in some topics. An imbalance in the formality of speaker introductions between genders was observed. Awareness of implicit gender bias may improve gender equity and inclusiveness in our specialty. See Video Abstract at

1 Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts

2 Harvard Medical School, Center for Surgery and Public Health (CSPH), Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts

3 Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

4 Section of Colon and Rectal Surgery, Barnes-Jewish Hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

Funding/Support: None reported.

Financial Disclosures: None reported.

Podium presentation at the meeting of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Nashville, TN, May 19 to 23, 2018.

Correspondence: Jennifer S. Davids, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.S.C.R.S., Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, UMass Memorial Medical Center, 67 Belmont St, Suite 201, Worcester MA 01605. E-mail:

© 2019 The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons