Previous research has highlighted the gender-based disparities present throughout the field of surgery. This study aims to evaluate the breadth of the issues facing women in plastic surgery, worldwide.
A systematic scoping review was undertaken from October of 2016 to January of 2017, with no restrictions on date or language. A narrative synthesis of the literature according to themed issues was developed, together with a summary of relevant numeric data.
From the 2247 articles identified, 55 articles were included in the analysis. The majority of articles were published from the United States. Eight themes were identified, as follows: (1) workforce figures; (2) gender bias and discrimination; (3) leadership and academia; (4) mentorship and role models; (5) pregnancy, parenting, and childcare; (6) relationships, work-life balance, and professional satisfaction; (7) patient/public preference; and (8) retirement and financial planning. Despite improvement in numbers over time, women plastic surgeons continue to be underrepresented in the United States, Canada, and Europe, with prevalence ranging from 14 to 25.7 percent. Academic plastic surgeons are less frequently female than male, and women academic plastic surgeons score less favorably when outcomes of academic success are evaluated. Finally, there has been a shift away from overt discrimination toward a more ingrained, implicit bias, and most published cases of bias and discrimination are in association with pregnancy.
The first step toward addressing the issues facing women plastic surgeons is recognition and articulation of the issues. Further research may focus on analyzing geographic variation in the issues and developing appropriate interventions.