July 25, 2017
The editors of Annals of Surgery have retracted a new paper on the “modern surgeon” after it was pointed out the paper only referred to surgeons with male pronouns. The piece — "Modern Surgeon: Still a Master of His Trade or Just an Operator of Medical Equipment?" —was actually a copy of a speech from Dr. Marek Krawczyk, the president of the European Surgical Association. As critics of the piece pointed out, the choice of language matters to the perception of women in the field and doesn’t reflect their important work. “Unfortunately, our own editorial review did not catch the singular use of male pronouns to refer to surgeons,” the journal’s editors said in a statement.
The incident also points to another issue: the gender diversity of journal editorial boards. A 2008 analysis found that fewer than 10 percent of the members of the Annals of Surgery editorial board each year were women, with only slightly more diversity seen in other major medical journals. That’s improved in the years since — now, women make up about 20 percent of the Annals of Surgery editorial board.