This page, developed with assistance from members of the STS Workforce on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, highlights some of the important Society activities and materials related to diversity, inclusion, and equity in cardiothoracic surgery. 

STS hosted a Town Hall for members in May 2023, moderated by STS President Tom MacGillivray, MD, and DEI consultant James Pogue, PhD. They discussed The Society’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusion within the organization and the specialty. Members were invited to ask questions and share feedback. If you missed it, watch the recording now.

The Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Governance Structure and Leadership Nominations

  • A Presidential Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion was created in 2017 to help conduct a DEI “climate survey” and address DEI issues within STS and the specialty.
  • In 2019, the Task Force was transformed into the Workforce on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, in recognition of its enduring importance to STS and the specialty.
  • The Society allows any member to self-nominate for leadership positions. Residents, women, and underrepresented minorities are specifically encouraged to self-nominate.
  • STS Board members, council chairs, and workforce chairs are encouraged to recommend residents, women, and underrepresented minorities for leadership positions.
  • STS also invites leadership appointment recommendations from many different stakeholders, including organizations such as the Thoracic Surgery Director’s Association and Thoracic Surgery Residents Association.
Eight women standing in scrubs in an operating room

STS Membership

  • The Society’s governance structure is currently composed of 73% males and 26% females.
  • Among STS leaders reporting their ethnicity, 61% identify as white and 38% identify as a different ethnicity.
  • STS membership today is 86% male and 14% female, but the ratio is rapidly changing, with the Resident/Fellow membership category composed of 69% male and 30% female.

Advocacy for Health Equity

STS is committed to the elimination of racial bias and disparities in healthcare. STS recognizes disparities in access to health care and health outcomes across races, socioeconomic status, and gender. STS advocates at the federal level for support of research and legislation that advances racial and socioeconomic equity in access to health care and health outcomes, while maintaining high quality care for patients. 

The Thoracic Surgery Foundation

The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF) supports efforts to enhance diversity in the specialty and improve access to care for underserved populations. 

TSF awards exclusively for female surgeons:

TSF awards aimed at surgeons from underrepresented demographic groups or those treating medically underserved populations:

 TSF awards serving low- and middle-income countries and underserved patient populations:

  • TSF Every Heartbeat Matters Awards (Sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation) - funding surgical outreach trips that provide access to underserved patient populations and train physicians in these regions
  • International Medical Volunteer Scholarship (Sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation)
  • Travel Scholarships to international conferences for surgeons who treat underserved patient populations - most recently the STS/EACTS Latin America Cardiovascular Surgery Conference (Sponsored by Edwards Lifesciences Foundation, W.L. Gore & Associates, STS and TSF)

TSF has a dedicated fund to provide long-term support for the Vivien T. Thomas Lecture at the STS Annual Meeting. The lecture honors Vivien Thomas, a black surgical technician who designed and tested anastomosis of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery, resulting in the landmark “blue baby” operation in 1944 for children with Tetralogy of Fallot. Past presenters of the Vivien T. Thomas Lecture: Clyde W. Yancy (2020), Quinn Capers IV (2021), Henri R. Ford (2022); and Francis

STS DEI-Related Investments

STS also has made DEI-related reinvestments in the specialty by funding scholarships bestowed by other CT surgery organizations:

  •  Women in Thoracic Surgery (WTS) grants to fund annual meeting scholarships from 2015 to 2023, which have allowed 80 women to attend the STS Annual Meeting
  • Association of Black Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgeons grants to fund a Pipeline Program that provides 12 scholarships over a 3-year span. The scholarships will be awarded to medical students and general surgery residents at Historically Black College and Universities to attend thoracic training programs at academic institutions.
  • TSRA Global Outreach Fellowship grants (2018 to 2023)

STS 2023, the Society’s 59th Annual Meeting, included several sessions focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including gaps and disparities in patient care:

  • Vivien Thomas Lecture featured Francisco G. Cigarroa, MD
  • The Cost of Being a Woman in Academic Cardiothoracic Surgery: An Analysis of Academic Rank and Salary - Cherie P. Erkmen, MD 
  • Racial Disparities in Waitlist Outcomes of Patients Listed for Lung Transplantation - Isabella S. Florissi (Chamberlain Paper in General Thoracic Surgery)
  • Vivien Thomas Symposium: Putting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into Action for our Patients
    • Strategies to Improve Compliance with Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines in Underserved Areas Focusing on Our Experience in South Carolina and Accessing Rural Communities. Ian C. Bostock, MD, MS
    • Gender Outcomes in CABG - Jessica Y. Rove, MD
    • Social Determinants of Health: Mitigating Health Disparities across a Patient’s Lifespan in Congenital Cardiac Surgery - Tara Karamlou, MD, MSc 
    • Increasing Health Equity and Transplant Volume - Yoshiya Toyoda, MD, PhD
    • Racial Disparities in Inpatient Management of Ischemic Heart Disease - Martha M.O. McGilvray, MD
Other STS Programs with a Focus on DEI

STS Journals

The Annals of Thoracic Surgery

The editors of The Annals of Thoracic Surgery and Annals Short Reports are increasingly focused on diversity and inclusion at every level of participation. 35% of editors are women. 20% are international, representing 16 countries. 

In addition to the articles below, read the reprint collection, Unequal Treatment, published as a supplement to the April 2023 issue of The Annals

Annals of Thoracic Surgery Articles on Diversity in CT Surgery

Annals Articles on the Impact of Diversity on Patient Outcomes

"Same Surgeon, Different Light" Podcast Series

This popular podcast, now in its third season, is designed to demystify CT surgery, revealing the men and women behind their surgical masks. Hosts David Tom Cooke, MD, and Thomas K. Varghese Jr., MD, MS, uncover the obstacles, triumphs, tradeoffs, and pivotal moments that have shaped their guests’ careers and personal missions. Episodes feature the backstories of cardiothoracic surgeons from different backgrounds and in various career stages. These leaders and rising stars offer powerful, candid stories that are funny and fascinating, as well as heartbreaking and inspiring.  

View the latest episodes:

Same Surgeon, Different Light - STS podcast

Episode #148