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Women Underrepresented in Leadership Roles in Ob-Gyn

Highest representation of women in family planning; lowest in reproductive endocrinology and infertility

THURSDAY, Jan. 15, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Women are underrepresented in leadership roles in obstetrics and gynecology, according to a study published online Jan. 8 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Lisa Hofler, M.D., M.P.H., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues conducted an observational study through websites of U.S. obstetrics and gynecology residency programs accredited in 2012-2013. They characterized the cohort who may become senior leaders in obstetrics and gynecology by examining the gender and subspecialty of faculty in leadership roles.

The researchers found that women accounted for 20.4 percent of chairs, 36.1 percent of vice chairs, and 29.6 percent of division directors in obstetrics and gynecology departmental administrative leadership roles. Women accounted for 31.9 percent of fellowship directors, 47.3 percent of residency directors, and 66.1 percent of medical student clerkship directors among educational leaders. Among the subspecialties, the greatest proportion of department chairs was maternal-fetal medicine faculty (38.2 percent), followed by specialists in general obstetrics and gynecology, reproductive endocrinologists, and gynecologic oncologists (21.8, 15.6, and 14.7 percent, respectively). One-third of chairs (32.9 percent) were male maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Among division directors, the highest and lowest representations of women were seen in family planning (80 percent) and reproductive endocrinology and infertility (15.8 percent), respectively. The specialty of general obstetrics and gynecology had the largest proportion of female chairs, vice chairs, residency program directors, and medical student clerkship directors.

“This study demonstrates that women are significantly underrepresented even in midlevel department leadership roles,” the authors write.

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