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An Analysis of Differences in the Number of Children for Female and Male Plastic Surgeons

Furnas, Heather J., M.D.; Li, Alexander Y., M.D.; Garza, Rebecca M., M.D.; Johnson, Debra J., M.D.; Bajaj, Anureet K., M.D.; Kalliainen, Loree K., M.D.; Weston, Jane S., M.D.; Song, David H., M.D., M.B.A.; Chung, Kevin C., M.D., M.S.; Rohrich, Rod J., M.D.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: January 2019 - Volume 143 - Issue 1 - p 315–326
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000005097
Plastic Surgery Focus: Women in Plastic Surgery
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Background: Historically, the structure of surgical programs discourages women interested in both surgery and motherhood from pursuing a surgical career, and women plastic surgeons have been more likely than men to have no children or to have fewer, later in life. Female plastic surgery trainees now constitute over one-third of residents, and pregnancy rates can be expected to rise, but with women now a majority in medical schools, the specialty’s maternity policies may be deterring interested women from entering the specialty. A survey study was conducted to measure reproductive outcomes and to identify current disparities between women and men plastic surgeons.

Methods: An anonymous electronic survey was distributed to American Society of Plastic Surgeons members and candidates, allowing comparisons of men’s and women’s responses. Differences were tested by the Fisher’s exact and chi-square tests.

Results: Compared with male respondents, women were more likely than men to have no biological children (45.1 percent versus 23.1 percent). They were nearly twice as likely to delay having children because of the demands of training (72.6 percent versus 39.2 percent) and to experience infertility (26.3 percent versus 12.5 percent). Among the childless plastic surgeons, women were 11 times more likely to say they did not want children compared with men (20.1 percent versus 1.8 percent).

Conclusions: Poor institutional maternity support results in a persistent, wide gap in reproductive outcomes between female and male plastic surgeons. Establishing a universal, comprehensive parental support policy is essential to closing that gap.

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Stanford and Davis, Calif.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Dallas, Texas

From the Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Stanford University; the Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of California; Bajaj Plastic Surgery; the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of North Carolina; the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown; the Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School; and the Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute.

Received for publication August 8, 2017; accepted May 4, 2018.

Disclosure: The authors declare no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and publication of this article. Dr. Rohrich receives instrument royalties from Eriem Surgical, Inc., and book royalties from Thieme Medical Publishing. He is a clinical and research expert for Allergan, Inc., and MTF Biologics, and the owner of Medical Seminars of Texas, LLC. The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and publication of this article.

Heather J. Furnas, M.D., 4625 Quigg Drive, Santa Rosa, Calif. 95409,, Twitter: @drheatherfurnas, Instagram: @drheatherfurnas, Facebook: Heather Furnas

©2019American Society of Plastic Surgeons