Diversity, equity, and inclusion in presidential leadership of academic medical and surgical societies


      • Progress has been made in advancing diversity in national presidential leadership.
      • African American females are still largely underrepresented in presidential roles.
      • Organizations with female leaders have shorter timelines to racial diversity.
      • Diversity committees may help to further diversity in leadership roles.



      Our aim was to identify gender and racial disparities in presidential leadership for national medical and surgical organizations.


      We located publicly sourced information on national medical organizations. Years between or since the first diverse presidents were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Mann Whitney U tests.


      Sixty-seven national medical and surgical organizations were surveyed. 70.8% (n = 34) diversified via gender first (White-female), whereas 26.1% (n = 14) had racial diversity first. Organizations with gender diversity first followed with an African American male president sooner than organizations who first diversified by race (14.7 ± 11.8 v. 27.6 ± 11.3 years, p = 0.018). No significant difference was observed for the third tier of diversification.


      Significant gender and racial leadership disparities in national medical organizations are still present. It is notable that organizations with female leaders had a shorter timeline to racial diversity. These findings help to inform strategies to promote and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in national leadership.


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