Background: Almost three times as many board-certified female plastic surgeons are unmarried compared with male colleagues. The purpose of this study was to determine why women in plastic surgery are less likely to be married.
Methods: A 52-question survey was sent to all female members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Questions focused on type of training and practice; marital status; age at marriage; spousal education, financial, and professional status; relational goals, values, and satisfaction. A total of 729 questionnaires were sent via e-mail; responses were anonymous.
Results: Response rate was 34 percent (n = 250). Respondents were either married (64 percent), engaged (2 percent), in a “serious” relationship (11 percent), or not in a committed relationship (23 percent). Of unmarried respondents, 56 percent wanted to marry, 44 percent did not wish marriage at the time of the survey, and 42 percent had deliberatively postponed marriage. The most frequently cited reasons for being single were perceived lack of desirable partners (45 percent), job constraints (14 percent), and personality differences (13 percent). Female plastic surgeons who married later than 36 years of age were more likely to choose a spouse with a lower income, less education, and lower financial success compared with female plastic surgeons who married at a younger age.
Conclusions: Women in surgical practice who marry later are less likely to find a partner with equal educational level, financial resources, and professional success. Hence, a shift occurs from hypergamy toward hypogamy. These findings are not unique to plastic surgery.