The Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgeons

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Melting the Plastic Ceiling: Where We Currently Stand on Measures to Promote Women in Plastic Surgery
Isabel Robinson, Amanda Silva, Salma Abdou, David Daar, Vishal Thanik.
NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.

Background: Women continue to be underrepresented in academic plastic surgery leadership despite increasing rates of entry into plastic surgery, academic production, and societal attention. Previous publications provide explicit recommendations for departments interested in increasing gender diversity within their leadership. The purpose of this study is to assess the degree to which these recommendations are enacted nationwide.
Methods: Plastic surgery divisions and departments with residency programs were identified through the ASAPS database. A representative was selected for contact using publicly-available faculty webpages, either a female faculty member or male program director at departments without women faculty. Representatives were emailed links to a survey on resources available to promote women leaders. Resources included participation in regional events for women in plastic surgery, mentorship programs specifically pairing junior and senior women, highlighting women's achievements in the department, inviting women speakers, transparency in salary and promotion criteria, unconscious gender bias training, appointed diversity officers, on-site daycare, private breast pumping stations, and parental leave. Statistical analysis was conducted using two-sided Fisher's exact tests to compare the proportion of programs providing specific resources and two-sided student's t-tests to compare the average count of resources.
Results: 49 of 92 survey recipients participated (53.2% response rate). Women comprised 40.1% of trainees, 25.5% of faculty, 22.4% of program directors, and 20.4% of chairs. Departments on average provided 2.70 of 11 resources. Programs with female chairs provided 4.30 resources vs. 2.26 resources provided by programs with male chairs (p=0.029). Programs with female program directors provided 4.45 resources vs. 2.22 resources provided by programs with male program directors (p=0.013). The most frequently provided resources were paid maternity leave (57.1% of programs), transparent salary and promotion criteria (49.0%), and private breast pumping stations (46.9%). The least frequently provided resources were on-site daycare (14.3%), programs highlighting women's achievements (12.2%), and female-specific mentorship programs (10.2%). Thirty-six programs (73.5%) were divisions under Surgery and 15 of these respondents (41.7%) felt their program's status affects its ability to implement the resources surveyed. None of the respondents from independent Plastic Surgery departments felt their program's status affects its ability to implement the resources surveyed.
Conclusions: Having a female chair or program director is associated with providing greater numbers of resources for promoting female leaders. With the exception of paid maternity leave, no resource is offered by the majority of departments. For departments interested in fostering women leaders, the resources surveyed are a recommended starting point.

Figure 1: Resources for Promoting Women in Leadership by Department Characteristics
ResourcesAll Depts
N (%)
Male Chair
N (%)
Female Chair
N (%)
p-valueMale PD N (%)Female PD
N (%)
p-valueLower than Average Female Faculty
N (%)
Higher than Average Female Faculty
N (%)
p-valueLower than Average Female Trainees
N (%)
Higher than Average Female Trainees
N (%)
p-value
Regional events for women in PRS22 (44.9%)15 (38.5%)7 (70.0%)0.09015
(39.5%)
7 (63.6%)0.18511
(40.7%)
11
(50.0%)
0.5738
(30.8%)
14
(60.9%)
0.047
Female-specific departmental mentorship5
(10.2%)
3
(7.7%)
2 (20.0%)0.2673
(7.9%)
2 (18.2%)0.3114
(14.8%)
1
(4.5%)
0.3621
(3.8%)
4
(17.4%)
0.173
Highlighting women's achievements6
(12.2%)
4 (10.3%)2 (20.0%)0.5883
(7.9%)
3 (27.3%)0.1172
(7.4%)
4
(18.2%)
0.3883
(11.5%)
3
(13.0%)
1.000
Inviting women speakers9
(18.4%)
5 (12.8%)4 (40.0%)0.0705 (13.2%)4 (36.4%)0.1795
(18.5%)
4
(18.2%)
1.0007
(26.9%)
2
(8.7%)
0.145
Career advancement transparency24 (49.0%)18 (46.2%)6 (60.0%)0.49617 (44.7%)7 (63.6%)0.32114
(51.9%)
10
(44.5%)
0.77614
(53.8%)
10
(43.5%)
0.571
Unconscious bias training16 (32.7%)11 (28.2%)5 (50.0%)0.26112 (31.6%)4 (36.4%)1.0009
(33.3%)
7
(31.8%)
1.0007
(26.9%)
9
(37.5%)
0.542
Diversity officer or panel16 (32.7%)12 (30.8%)4 (40.0%)0.70912 (31.6%)4 (36.4%)1.0008
(29.6%)
8
(36.4%)
0.7615
(19.2%)
11
(45.8%)
0.151
On-site daycare7
(14.3%)
5 (12.8%)2 (20.0%)0.6205
(13.2%)
2 (18.2%)0.6473
(11.1%)
4
(18.2%)
0.6854
(15.4%)
3
(13.0%)
1.000
Breast pumping stations23 (46.9%)16 (41.0%)7 (70.0%)0.15715 (39.5%)8 (72.7%)0.08610
(37.0%)
13
(59.1%)
0.15711
(42.3%)
12
(52.3%)
0.572
Paid maternity leave28 (57.1%)21 (53.8%)7 (70.0%)0.48223 (60.5%)5 (45.5%)0.49413
(48.1%)
15
(68.2%)
0.24614
(53.8%)
14
(60.9%)
0.774
Paid paternity leave14 (28.6%)10 (25.6%)4 (40.0%)0.44211 (28.9%)3 (27.3%)1.0006
(22.2M%)
8
(36.4%)
0.3487
(26.9%)
7
(30.4%)
1.000
Average Count of Resources Provided2.702.264.30 (0.029)2.224.45 (0.013)2.542.860.6762.462.950.525
Average proportion of female faculty = 0.255.
Trainees include residents and fellows. Average proportion of female trainees = 0.401.
Counts include programs offering unconscious bias training to any departmental members.
Counts include both funded and unfunded diversity officers or panels.
Counts include programs offering paid maternity leave to any departmental members.
Counts include programs offering paid paternity leave to any departmental members.
Indicates results that are statistically significant at p<0.05


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