Association of Women Surgeons

The Association of Women Surgeons (AWS) is a non-profit educational and professional organization founded in 1981. With over 2,000 members in 21 countries, both women and men, AWS is one of the largest international organizations dedicated to supporting, enhancing the interaction, and facilitating the exchange of information between women surgeons at various stages in their careers. The organization's mission statement reads: "To inspire, encourage, and enable women surgeons to achieve their personal and professional goals".


The AWS was founded in 1981 when Dr. Patricia Numann posted a sign inviting any woman surgeon to a breakfast at the October meeting of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) in the San Francisco Hilton Hotel. The AWS was incorporated in 1986.[citation needed]


The association counts with five local chapters:[citation needed]

  • Arizona
  • Massachusetts
  • North Carolina (Charlotte)
  • Virginia
  • Washington DC Metro

In addition, there are over 50 AWS Medical Student Chapters nationally and internationally. Many institutions also have institutional chapters for their female surgical residents.[citation needed]

Key collaborations and partnerships[edit]

  • Association for Academic Surgery – A liaison position exists between the Council of both organizations; this member plans the biennial Women Surgeons luncheon during the Academic Surgical Congress.
  • American College of Surgeons – In addition to having a Governor from the AWS to the ACS Board of Governors, the AWS has a liaison to the ACS Advisory Council on General Surgery, the ACS Women in Surgery Committee, and the ACS Resident and Associate Society Council. The reception prior to the annual AWS Awards Dinner is co-sponsored by the ACS Women in Surgery Committee.
  • WiSA (Women in Surgery Africa) – AWS leaders, particularly Drs. Patricia Numann and Hilary Sanfey, provided guidance for the launch of WiSA in 2015 and have provided mentorship for leaders of WiSA.
  • International Surgical Society – During the biennial World Congress of Surgery, the AWS works with international women surgeons to develop educational panels and social events.[citation needed]

Past presidents[edit]


  • AWS/ Ethicon Fellowship – $27500 unrestricted research grant awarded annually to an AWS member.
  • Kim Ephgrave Visiting Professor Award – provides academic institutions the opportunity to host leading women surgeons as speakers using funding from the AWS Foundation.
  • Nina Starr Braunwald Award (1993—present) recognizes a member or nonmember surgeon in recognition of sustained outstanding contributions to the advancement of women in surgery.
  • Olga Jonasson Distinguished Member Award (1990–present) is given annually to an AWS member who through outstanding mentorship enables and encourages women surgeons to realize their personal and professional goals.
  • Past Presidents' Honorary Member Award (1990–present) is awarded annually to non-members who are supportive of AWS goals and mission. Of note, 16 of the recipients of this award have been male surgeons.
  • Hilary Sanfey Outstanding Woman Resident Award (1999–present) recognizes outstanding women surgical trainees who demonstrate potential as future leaders in surgery.
  • Patricia Numann Medical Student Award (2003–present) was established to encourage and support female medical students pursuing a career in surgery.
  • Women Surgeons in Low & Middle Income Countries (2016–present) was established to enable a woman surgeon in a low or middle income country to attend a surgical meeting or to participate in a workshop or other career development/ educational opportunity.


External links[edit]