Assessment of Gender Differences in Perceptions of Work-Life Integration among Head and Neck Surgeons

Ozlem E. Tulunay-Ugur, Catherine F. Sinclair, Amy Y. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Importance: The factors that contribute to gender discrepancies among attending head and neck surgeons have yet to be fully characterized. Objective: To evaluate the association of gender difference with the perceived quality of life of head and neck oncological surgeons. Design, Setting, and Participants: Following approval from the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS) review board, a web-based survey study of 37 questions, mainly assessing daily lifestyle and quality of life, was sent to the entire membership. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcome assessed was perceived quality of life among female and male surgeons. Results: A total of 261 members (13.0%) responded, 71 women (27.2%) and 190 men (72.8%). In all, 66 female (92.5%) and 152 male (80%) surgeons worked at an academic institution. A greater percentage of women were at the associate professor level than men (20/64 [31%] vs 37/152 [24%]; difference, 6.9%; 95% CI, -5.6% to 20.5%) and a greater percentage of men were at the professor level than women (72/152 [47%] vs 18/64 [28%]; difference, 19%; 95% CI, 4.9% to 31.6%). This discrepancy was evident in administrative roles as well, with 4 female (6.2%) vs 23 male (17.6%) department chairs (difference, 11.3%; 95% CI, 0.9%-19.6%). Of the 71 women, 18 (25%) were not in a long-term relationship or were divorced, as opposed to 6 (3.2%) men (difference, 22%; 95% CI, 12.8%-33.5%). Women had a mean (median) 1.18 (1) children, whereas men had 2.29 (2) children. Mean age that participating women had their first child was 35.1 years, whereas the man age for men was 31.9 years. Overall, 117 men (61.9%) and 45 women (67.2%) found their family time limited compared with other otolaryngological subspecialties. Despite these results, 101 men (53.4%) vs 37 women (55.2%) stated that they had a good work-life balance. Six women vs 8 men indicated they would choose a different subspecialty if they could. Conclusions and Relevance: Despite improvements in work hours and gender balance in residency programs, discrepancy in the number of female surgeons with senior academic rankings continues. However, female and male head and neck surgeons appear equally content with their subspecialty choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-458
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019


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