Academic plastic surgery has a history of underrepresentation of ethnic and racial minority groups. Recent policy shifts by national medical groups and plastic surgery societies have focused on reversing these inequalities. This study seeks to measure ethnic and racial representation at academic and leadership positions following recent changes.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in June of 2018, measuring ethnic and racial diversity of U.S. academic plastic surgery faculty. Among faculty, career qualifications, years of experience, faculty positions, and leadership ethnicity were compared.
A total of 930 academic plastic surgeons were included in the study. Classified collectively as nonwhite, this group graduated more recently than other academic plastic surgeons (2006 versus 2001; p
< 0.0001) and had greater rates of clinical fellowship attainment (OR, 1.62; 95 percent CI, 1.16 to 2.26). Nonwhite individuals were less likely to be employed in the full professor position compared with their white colleagues (OR, 0.6; 95 percent CI, 0.42 to 0.88; p
= 0.0077). However, after adjustment for differences in years of postresidency experience, this disparity was no longer significant (OR, 1.06; 95 percent CI, 0.62 to 1.83; p
= 0.82), indicating the importance of current cohort experience differences. Assessment of program leadership found that nonwhite chairs employed significantly more nonwhite faculty (42.5 percent versus 20.9 percent; p
Academic plastic surgery continues to face disparities in representation of both ethnic and racial minorities. Current inequalities are most severe at senior academic positions and may be linked to cohort experience differences along with leadership and promotion biases.