3) WIO tell what they think and what they want. This groundswell of support came on the heels of completion of the first Academy survey by and about women in otolaryngology, now being written up as a research study and soon to be submitted for publication. The survey was completed by e-mail over a one-month period, beginning June 28, 2010, by 1,247 women at all levels of AAO-HNS membership, including residents. The response rate was 38 percent, with 418, or 34 percent, completing it. Here are some of the major findings:
Explore This IssueApril 2011
- The mean age of respondents was 41 years. Sixty-nine percent were ages 25-45, mirroring the distribution of women who made up approximately 14 percent of the Academy in 2010.
- Eighty-seven percent of respondents said they work full time, and 62 percent are in private practice. The 38 percent response rate from academics was higher than expected given the percent of otorhinolaryngologists overall in academia.
- Seventy-five percent of respondents are married—higher than the average for all women physicians—and 67 percent have children. Sixty-seven percent also said they have taken time off from practice, an average of five months over the course of their careers.
- Change of practice setting occurred in 33 percent, with poor practice fit, discrimination and harassment cited by almost 50 percent as their reasons for leaving. Relocation obligation, compensation and career advancement were the next most common reasons.
- Asked to rank the top priorities in order of concern, pay equity, work-life balance, professionalism and altruism were “more important” or “extremely important,” with rating averages from 4.22 to 4.52. However, when forced to choose one as the “most” important, work-life balance was chosen by 44 percent.
- Lifelong learning and surgical challenges topped the list of career priorities. WIO are clearly very committed to their work. Being part of a team, having a flexible schedule and working in a fair workplace environment were cited next. When asked about the top priority, 22 percent chose surgical challenges, with flexible schedules a close second at 20 percent.
- Women otorhinolaryngologists felt positively about being committee members and their inclusion in the scientific programs. They were less positive about the role of women as guest lecturers and about inclusion as leaders in the AAO-HNS and on committees. In 2010, the number of women serving as committee chairs increased dramatically, from three to 14, and for the first time a woman, Dr. Sonya Malekzadeh, was chosen to head up a major program, education, for the AAO-HNS.
- The survey also identified the need for additional research on WIO, with an expectation that the gender discrimination clause of the code of ethics would be helpful to ensure fair treatment. Additionally, respondents requested more courses and mini-seminars that address the issues facing women otolaryngologists.
With this information, the AAO-HNS leadership and WIO can confidently find strategies that will help the workplace adapt to this increasing demographic. For example, the data has generated the creation and submission of four mini-seminars for next year’s annual academy meeting. It also brought to our attention the need for an academy mentorship program for women otolaryngologists, and informed us of the best communication tools for this demographic. The survey has also inspired an award to be given at the annual WIO luncheon called the Helen F. Krause Trail Blazer Award for Women in Otolaryngology, open to any AAO-HNS member who has exhibited extraordinary leadership in improving the status of women in the field.