Melting the Plastic Ceiling: Where We Currently Stand on Measures to Support Women in Academic Plastic Surgery
BACKGROUND:Previous studies have provided recommendations for increasing female leadership in academic plastic surgery. This study quantifies the extent to which these recommendations have been met in plastic surgery residency programs and identifies remaining institutional barriers to the advancement of women in academic plastic surgery. METHODS:An electronic survey was designed to quantify select recommendations for promoting female leadership in academic plastic surgery. The survey was distributed to either a female faculty member or a male program director at each academic plastic surgery program. An optional phone interview discussing current barriers to women's advancement followed the survey. RESULTS:Forty-nine of 92 survey recipients participated (52.7 percent response rate). Women constituted 25 percent of faculty, 22 percent of program directors, and 20 percent of program leaders of participating programs. Programs on average provided three of 11 resources. Programs with female leaders provided 6.20 resources versus 2.28 resources at departments with male chairs (p = 0.015). Programs with female program directors provided 5.50 resources versus 2.18 resources at programs with male program directors (p = 0.008). Of the 49 survey respondents, nine completed the interview (18.4 percent completion rate). The most frequently identified barriers to aspiring women leaders were opaque promotion criteria (cited by 77.8 percent of interviewees), motherhood bias (77.8 percent), and unequal recruitment practices (55.6 percent). CONCLUSIONS:The presence of a female chair or program director is associated with a greater quantity of resources for promoting female leaders. Remaining barriers to women seeking academic leadership positions include compensation and promotion disparities, motherhood bias, and unequal recruitment practices.