Gender Disparity In Global Plastic Surgery Mission Participation
Ogechukwu Onuh, Ilana Margulies, MS, Hena Wadhwa, PhD, Yasmina Zoghbi, MD, Peter J. Taub, MD, MS.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.
Purpose: Plastic surgery is integral to global surgery; however, not all plastic surgeons are equally represented in this effort, with women only representing 18.7% of plastic surgeons who participate in international mission trips.1 The present study aims to identify gender barriers to participating on surgical mission trips by surveying members of the American Cleft Palate Association.
Methods: A validated survey methodology with neutral, fact-based questions was implemented through Google Forms. The google form link was distributed by an administrator in the American Cleft-Palate Association (ACPA). Questions included demographics, non-identifying surgeon-specific information, and potential barriers in participation. Responses were analyzed using GraphPad Prism 8.1.2.
Results: One hundred-fifty-one plastic surgeons responded to the distributed survey, resulting in a 27.45% response rate. Respondents consisted of 118 (78%) males and 33 (22%) females, with 77 (51%) under the age of 55 years old. One hundred twenty-one (80.13%) were married, and 129 (85.4%) had children, with an average number of 2.5 children. All respondents were plastic surgery trained, with 6 (3.92%) having additional training in otolaryngology and 2 (1.3%) having additional training in oral surgery. One-hundred-seventeen (77.5%) of respondents were fellowship trained. One hundred-thirty-four (88.74%) respondents reported previously having been on mission trips, with 77 (51.0%) having previously been on more than 5 mission trips and 107 (70.4%) having been on a mission trip less than 5 years ago. More men reported prior experience on mission trips as compared to women (92.2% vs. 78.8%, p<0.05), with no significant difference in men vs. women reporting mission trip experience in the last 5 years (72.0% vs. 66.7%, p>0.05). Forty-three percent of respondents with prior mission experience reported no institutional support. Of those who did not receive institutional support, there were significantly more men with children who were able to participate regardless of institutional support than women with children (p<0.05). Eight women (24.24%) reported barriers surrounding pregnancy and lactation, with 4 of those participants reporting significant barriers due to Zika.
Conclusion: Disproportionately more male than female plastic surgeons participate on global mission trips. Barriers to participation include pregnancy, lactation, and institutional support. The present study should provoke future initiatives to encourage female plastic surgeon participation through initiatives that aid female participation during reproductive years and initiatives that enhance institutional support.
1. McIntyre, J. K., Schoenbrunner, A. R., Kelley, K. D., & Gosman, A. A. (2017). Predictors, quality markers, and economics of volunteering internationally: Results from a comprehensive survey of American society of plastic surgeons members in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
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