Change Is Happening: An Evaluation of Gender Disparities in Academic Plastic Surgery

Gender disparities in academic plastic surgery are known; however, recently, professional societies have endorsed a culture of gender diversification. This study aims to evaluate the effects of these changes at faculty and leadership positions.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in June of 2018 to evaluate gender representation among U.S. academic plastic surgery faculty, and compare career qualifications, years of experience, and faculty positions.
A total of 938 academic plastic surgeons were identified, of which only 19.8 percent were women. Female surgeons graduated more recently than men (2009 versus 2004; p < 0.0001) and predominantly from integrated residency programs (OR, 2.72; 95 percent CI, 1.87 to 3.96), were more likely to be an assistant professor (OR, 2.19; 95 percent CI, 1.58 to 3.05), and were less likely to be a full professor (OR, 0.20; 95 percent CI, 0.11 to 0.35) or program chair (OR, 0.32; 95 percent CI, 0.16 to 0.65). After adjustment for differences in years of postresidency experience, only disparities at the full professor position remained significant (OR, 0.34; 95 percent CI, 0.16 to 0.17), indicating that experience-independent gender inequality is prominent at the full professor level and that current differences in cohort experience are a significant contributor to many of the observed positional disparities. Lastly, programs led by a female chair employed significantly more female faculty (32.5 percent versus 18.2 percent; p = 0.016).
Gender diversity in academic plastic surgery remains a significant issue, but may see improvement as the disproportionately high number of junior female academics advance in their careers. However, leadership and promotion disparities between men and women still exist and must be addressed.

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