Date of Award

January 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Ninani Kombo


According to the most recent United States Census information, 50.8% of the United States population is female. More than half of graduating medical students are women. Despite this, women made up only 36.3% of the physician workforce in 2019.1 In Ophthalmology, women make up only 24% of the practicing physician workforce. Within Ophthalmology subspecialties, a few have closed the gender gap, and in some, women outnumber men. Determining which subspecialties are approaching gender parity will allow ophthalmology as a profession to emphasize effective recruitment methods to achieve equal gender representation. We aim to describe trends in the number of men and women reporting a subspecialty practice focus among American Board of Ophthalmology (ABO) Diplomates. The de-identified records of all ABO-certified ophthalmologists between 1992 - 2020 were obtained. The year of certification, gender, and the self-reported primary practice for each ophthalmologist was recorded. Subspecialty was defined as the self-reported primary practice emphasis as reported to the ABO. The data was then organized in a table and longitudinal trends were graphed. Chi-square analysis was conducted for subspecialty practice in the aggregate. Longitudinal changes were graphed for the five largest subspecialties by number. A total of 12,844 board-certified ophthalmologists were included: 8,459 men (66%) and 4,385 women (34%). Of those, 3,940 (46%) men and 2,102 (48%) women reported a subspecialty. The number of men entering ophthalmology outnumbers that of women 2:1 over the period of this study. A significantly greater proportion of women than men reported primary practice in pediatrics (9.9% vs. 3.7%, p <0.001) and glaucoma (10.4% vs. 7.4%, p < 0.0001). A significantly greater proportion of men than women reported primary practice in vitreoretinal surgery (22.0% vs. 10.6%, p < 0.0001). There was no difference between the proportion of men and women reporting cornea (p=0.15) or oculoplastics (p=0.31) subspecialties. The gender makeup of ophthalmology subspecialties has changed between 1992 and 2020. The changes are not uniform across subspecialties, with some subspecialties closing the gender gap. The number of men entering ophthalmology outnumbers that of women 2:1 over the period of this study, hence they remain the majority in ophthalmology and consequently, in most subspecialties.


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