Dr. Furnas talks about the Gender Differences in the Professional Lives of Plastic Surgeons
Gender in Plastic Surgery
The capstone of PRS's award-winning series on women in plastic surgery is entitled Gender Differences in the Personal and Professional Lives of Plastic Surgeons. Look for it in the July 2018 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The percentage of plastic surgeons who are women has grown from almost zero in the 1950s to 16% now. Currently half of medical students are women, but only 35% of plastic surgery trainees are women. So why the gap? Well, this study helps answer that question. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons surveyed its members and candidates and had 757 total respondents, 59% of whom were men and 41% women. Women were much more likely to be single at 16.5% compared with men at 8.8%. And as expected, men were more likely to be married. Women were much more likely to strongly agree that their career influenced when they got married compared with men. Women were much more likely to disagree that they were able to negotiate a favorable outcome in salary, academic advancement, leadership position, or authorship. Or that they were appropriately recognized for authorship, ideas, promotions, or raises, or that superiors treated them similar to colleagues. The vasty majority of women respondents experienced sexual harassment, at 84%, compared with men at 17%. These factors may contribute to why 83% of academic women respondents were assistant or associate professors compared with 60% of men, and why 55% of men were full professors, chiefs or chairs, compared with just 17% of women. Women were much more likely to agree that patients chose them because of their gender. A good foundation for both genders to flourish begins with awareness of gender bias along with promoting work-life balance and establishing active mentorship programs. These measures will help both women and men thrive, both personally and professionally.