What can be learned in evaluating the degree to which women are currently represented in otolaryngology leadership roles such as residency and fellowship directorships, or chair positions?
Bottom Line: Women are currently disproportionately underrepresented in otolaryngology leadership roles, but a shift may be taking place.
Explore This IssueJuly 2020
Background: Despite the increase in female representation in U.S. medical schools, women are still significantly underrepresented within many surgical specialties. Approximately one-third of otolaryngologists are women, yet women comprise a smaller portion of academic senior faculty and hold disproportionately fewer leadership roles than would be expected.
Study Design: Cross-sectional analysis.
Setting: American Medical Association Fellowship and Residency Interactive Database; Scopus database
Synopsis: Researchers compiled a list of directors of accredited otolaryngology residency programs and fellowships in the United States and Canada in 2017–2018. The Scopus database was used to gather the h-index, a measure of research productivity. Women were found to hold 15.3% of overall leadership positions and 5.1% of department chair positions. Women directors had practiced an average of 13.9±6.8 years, compared to men’s 20.3±9.4 years. The greatest proportion of women holding directorships were associate professors, whereas the majority of male directors were full professors; however, women are taking on directorship roles with fewer years of practice, lower academic ranks, and lower h-indices, possibly representing early involvement in leadership. Lack of female role models, inadequate mentoring, and issues of work-life balance, especially regarding childbearing and childrearing, are among the potential disparity factors. There are fewer women in the surgical pipeline, which is a multifactorial issue that includes attrition in the academic setting. Not every type of academic leadership position was evaluated for this study. Additionally, the h-index does not consider additional components that influence academic success, such as teaching, educational involvement, mentorship, and clinical productivity.
Citation: Epperson M, Gouveia CJ, Tabangin ME, et al. Female representation in otolaryngology leadership roles. Laryngoscope. 2020;130:1664-1669. doi:10.1002/lary.28308.