To describe and compare geographic representation of women in obstetrics and gynecology department-based leadership roles across American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) districts and U.S. Census Bureau regions while accounting for the proportion of women practicing in each area.
We conducted a cross-sectional observational study. To more meaningfully quantify representation of women as leaders in ACOG districts and U.S. Census Bureau regions, we calculated representation ratios—the proportion of department-based leaders who were women divided by the proportion of obstetrician–gynecologists who were women. A ratio of 1.0 indicates proportionate representation and less than 1.0 indicates underrepresentation. We calculated 95% CIs to compare representation of women in leadership roles across geographic areas. The gender of major department-based leaders (chair, vice chair, division director) and educational leaders (fellowship, residency, associate residency, medical student clerkship director) was determined from websites.
The proportion of department chairs who were women was highest in the West and lowest in the South Census Bureau regions. Representation ratios for women in major department-based leadership roles demonstrated underrepresentation relative to the practicing base nationally and in all four regions. Although women were underrepresented in major department-based leadership throughout the country, there was significantly higher women's representation in major department-based leadership roles in the West (ratio 0.82, 95% CI 0.68–0.99) compared with the Northeast (ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.42–0.59) and the South (ratio 0.45, 95% CI 0.36–0.57). Similarly, in the division director role, the West (ratio 0.85, 95% CI 0.68–1.1) had significantly higher representation of women compared with the Northeast (ratio 0.50, 95% CI 0.40–0.62). Nationally, women were underrepresented as fellowship directors, proportionately represented as residency program directors, and overrepresented as medical student clerkship directors.
Representation ratios of women in major department-based leadership roles, which account for the proportion of women practicing in each geographic area, suggest that women were more likely to advance to the department-based leadership roles of chair, vice chair, or division director in the western United States.