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Minimizing implicit bias in search committees

  • Hibba Sumra
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    University of Toledo College of Medicine, 3000 Arlington Ave, Toledo, OH, 43614, USA
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  • Andrea N. Riner
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    University of Florida Department of Surgery, 1600 SW Archer Road, Gainesville, FL, 32610, USA
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  • Simran Arjani
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, 108 S Orange Ave, Newark, NJ, 07103, USA
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  • Sadia Tasnim
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    Cleveland Clinic Department of Surgery, 9500 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA
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  • Madhushree Zope
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    University of Alabama Department of Surgery, 808 7th Avenue South, D202 Boshell Building Birmingham, Alabama, 35233, USA
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  • Chantal Reyna
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    Crozer Health System, 2100 Keystone Drexel Hill, PA, 19026, USA
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  • Tanya Anand
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. , University of Arizona Department of Surgery, 1501 N. Campbell Ave, Rm 5411, PO Box 245063, Tucson, AZ, 85724, USA.
    Affiliations
    Association of Women Surgeons, Publications Committee, USA
    University of Arizona Department of Surgery, 1501 N. Campbell Ave, Rm 5411, Tucson, AZ, 85724, USA
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      Significance of terms like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are discussed frequently but implementation of measures incorporating these principles remains elusive. Much of the discourse revolves around what it means to be equitable and inclusive as well as characterization of explicit, implicit, and systemic biases limiting our ability to achieve improved diversity and representation. One reason for this lies in the multi-generational experience with discrimination and bias that has led to a homogenous work force and obstacles for those with differing identities. Healthcare and academia are not immune to this. A report published in 2014 by the Association of American Colleges revealed the leaky pipeline of female trainee and faculty recruitment from the earliest stages of medicine with women representing 47% of students at US medical schools, holding 46% of the positions in residency programs and only 38% of full-time faculty appointments. Among leadership positions, women were found to hold only 21% of full professor positions, 16% of dean positions and 15% of departmental chair positions.
      • Rochon Paula A.
      • Frank Davidoff
      • Levinson Wendy
      Women in academic medicine leadership: has anything changed in 25 years?.
      ,
      • McMurtrie B.
      How to Do a Better Job of Searching for Diversity.
      More specific to surgical faculty, a recent study showed differing trends in representation for male and female racial/ethnic minority faculty in the pipeline. There was favorable growth for female faculty from underrepresented races/ethnicities among early to mid-career ranks. However, this trend disappeared among leadership positions. In fact, there was no improvement in minority representation among full professors and chairs from 2013-2019.
      • Girod S.
      • Fassiotto M.
      • Grewal D.
      • et al.
      Reducing implicit gender leadership bias in academic medicine with an educational intervention.
      The additive effect over time creates an insurmountable barrier for those experiencing these biases. However, strides in recognition of the problem are being made so that discriminatory practices are minimized.
      • Riner A.N.
      • Herremans K.M.
      • Neal D.W.
      • et al.
      Diversification of academic surgery, its leadership, and the importance of intersectionality.
      The above trends highlight the impact of underlying biases and the urgency to address them among search committees. It is vital to implement efficacious strategies to minimize bias among search committee members so greater equity is brought in the decision-making process. In this paper we discuss current practices to address implicit bias, their effectiveness, alternative approaches, and suggestions for improvement when creating a search committee.
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