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About AWS

The Association of Women Surgeons (AWS), founded in 1981, is a not-for-profit educational and professional organization. With over 2,000 members, both women and men, AWS is one of the largest organizations dedicated to enhancing the interaction and exchange of information between women surgeons. Truly an international organization, AWS has members in 21 countries:

Our Mission

The mission of the Association of Women Surgeons is to inspire, encourage and enable women surgeons to realize their professional and personal goals.


  • To promote professional growth and development,
  • To enhance and facilitate interaction among women surgeons throughout the world,
  • To foster an environment supportive of personal values and individual diversity, and
  • To advance the highest standards of competence and ethical behavior.

Why AWS is Important

AWS addresses the unique challenges that women surgeons face such as:

  • Balancing family issues with the demands of a surgical career;
  • Pay equity issues; and
  • The lack of women in leadership positions.

AWS has been a leader in providing mentorship at all surgical levels to both women and men.

  • The AWS Pocket Mentor was first published in 1993. Since then four updates have been published and nearly 50,000 books have been distributed to men and women medical students, residents, program directors, department chairs, libraries and schools. The AWS Pocket Mentor is also distributed at other medical conferences.

The American College of Surgeons recognizes AWS with a Governor position, as it does with other specialty organizations, thus communicating that we serve an important constituency.

Current Statistics

  1. The number of women who are general surgeons has consistently increased over the past 30 years.

  2. A growing number of women serve as chairs of surgery departments.
  3. Women constitute 8% of Professors, 13% of Associate Professors and 26% of Assistant Professors of Surgery.
  4. The 100-year-old American College of Surgeons (ACS):
    • Five women have chaired the ACS Board of Governors.
    • Four women have received the ACS Distinguished Service Award.
    • Three women will have served as ACS President as of 2017.
    • Two women have been named ACS Division Director.
    • Two women surgeons have chaired the ACS Board of Regents since October 2012.
    • A woman has yet to serve as the ACS Executive Director.

There isn’t an all-men’s organization, so why should we support an all women’s organization?

  • There isn’t a need for a “male surgeon” organization since most of the surgical organizations are, as noted in the statistics above, comprised primarily of men with men in almost all the leadership positions.
  • AWS membership is open to men, as well as women.
  • All AWS resources, including our popular Pocket Mentor and family leave policies, are accessible to everyone on our Website.


  1. Physician Characteristics and Distribution in the US, 2009. Chicago, IL: American Medical Association; 2009.
  2. FREIDA Online. 2011. (Accessed here January 6, 2012)
  3. Rowley B, Baldwin DC, Jr., McGuire M. Selected Characteristics of Graduate Medical Education in the United States. JAMA 1991;266:933-43.
  4. Distribution of U.S. Medical School Faculty by Sex, Rank, and Department. 2010. (Accessed January 6, 2012,at .)