NYMC Faculty Publications

Early Women Pioneers and the Evolution of Women in Plastic Surgery

Author Type(s)


Journal Title

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Global Open

First Page


Document Type


Publication Date





The history of women in surgery has been documented since ancient times. Despite this, women physicians have historically encountered unique obstacles in achieving the same respect and privileges as their male counterparts. Early female physicians overcame many challenges to complete their training following graduation from medical school. The first woman in the field of plastic surgery in the United States was Dr. Alma Dea Morani, who became a member of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (ASPRS, now ASPS) in 1948. She applied for plastic surgery training six different times over 6 years, until she was accepted at a position where she had shadowing-only privileges. Yet, her steadfast determination and perseverance led her to build a successful career, becoming a role model and advocate for women in plastic surgery. The Women Plastic Surgeons Forum within ASPRS was officially established in 1992; however, informal events began as early as 1979. This group fostered mentorship among emerging female leaders, allowing women to take on leadership roles within national plastic surgery organizations. These women, in turn, have become role models for subsequent generations of women in this field. Plastic surgery has historically seen a higher percentage of female Resident/Fellows relative to other surgical specialties. Studies have shown that female role models are the most influential factor for female medical students interested in plastic surgery, a powerful fact considering women now comprise over 50% of graduating medical students. Female mentorship is essential in fostering the future generation of female plastic surgeons.