Although the number of women becoming plastic surgeons has increased during the past six decades, in comparison with the current gender parity in medical schools, plastic surgery still attracts disproportionately more men. Previous studies have shown disparities in the professional and personal lives of female and male plastic surgeons. A survey study was conducted to identify current challenges women and men encounter in the pursuit of a plastic surgical career to guide remedial strategies.
An anonymous electronic survey was distributed to American Society of Plastic Surgeons members and candidates for comparison between sexes. Differences were tested by the Fisher’s exact and chi-square tests.
Women were more likely than men to have experienced sexism or bias. Women were less likely to be married; be satisfied with work-life balance; or feel recognized for ideas, authorship, promotions, or raises. Women felt that their sex was a disadvantage in career advancement, with one exception: unlike men, women felt many patients chose them because of their sex. Despite these challenges, over 80 percent of all plastic surgeons were satisfied with their choice of career.
Traditions and gender bias create disparities in the personal and professional lives of female and male plastic surgeons. Our specialty must make concrete changes to promote all plastic surgeons, both women and men, to thrive personally and professionally.