Gender diversity influences applicant perspectives of plastic surgery residency programs
Rachel A Guest, MD; Matthew Miller, MD; James A Butterworth, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS
Background: Gender equality and diversity are important issues facing the medical field. While female representation among plastic surgery residents has improved, female representation at higher academic ranks has not kept pace. Increased gender diversity may provide residents with mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, instill residents with confidence in their abilities through role-modeling, and allow for more supportive and non-discriminatory environments for learning.
Methods: Electronic surveys were distributed to applicants for integrated plastic surgery residency positions during the 2020-2021 application cycle. Survey responses were analyzed using Studentís t-Tests with ?=0.05. Free-text responses were analyzed for similarities in response themes.
Results: The response rate was 18.5%. 54% of respondents were female, 39% were male and 7% chose not to disclose their gender. Applicants agreed that gender diversity among residents and faculty influenced both perception and rank-order list (ROL) creation. Female respondents agreed more strongly that resident and faculty gender diversity influenced their perception (p=0.007, p=0.01) and ROL creation (p<0.001, p=0.03). Programs with more than 90% female or male compositions were perceived negatively. 37.9% of female respondents compared to 4.8% of male respondents ranked programs higher when women held positions of program leadership including division or department chair, associate program director, and program director (p=0.003) and 86.2% of female respondents compared to 23.8% of male respondents perceived these programs more positively (p<0.001). Respondents cited reasons including being more comfortable, mentorship opportunities, perception of resident treatment, and shared values.
Conclusion: Increasing gender diversity within plastic surgery residency programs affects perception and rank-order list creation for prospective applicants. Female applicants are more likely to rank programs higher when they have increased gender diversity and women in leadership positions. Initiatives to improve gender diversity should be encouraged.
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