Two Greek professors, Eleni Linos, from the University of California San Francisco and Katerina Linos, law professor at the University of California Berkley, were two of the four co-authors that recently published study on gender disparity in leadership positions of medical departments of educational institutions across the United States.
The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, took an unorthodox approach to the subject. Researchers sought to compare the representation of women compared to that of men with moustaches.
“We want to increase the representation of women in academic medical leadership by drawing attention to sex disparities. We compared the proportion of women in leadership positions with the proportion of individuals with moustaches. We chose to study moustaches as the comparator because they are rare (<15% of men from the most recent measures available), and we wanted to learn if women were even rarer. Our hypothesis was that fewer women lead academic medical departments in the US than individuals with moustaches,” the study notes.
The study found that out of 1018 department heads in the USA’s top 50 institutions funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), only 13% (137) were women. In contrast, 19% (190) of the department heads were men with moustaches. Female leadership by institution ranged from 0% to 26%.
“Only seven institutions had more than 20% female department leaders. It also shows the proportion of female department leaders by medical specialty, which ranged from 0% (0/53) to 36% (19/53). Only five specialties had more than 20% female department leaders: obstetrics and gynecology (36%; 19/53), pediatrics (31%; 16/52), dermatology (23%; 12/53), family medicine (21%; 9/43), and emergency medicine (21%; 11/53),” the study found.
At the same time department leadership by moustached men stretched from 0% to 37% in certain institutions. In contrast to the seven institutions with female leadership of over 20%, there are 19 institutions with more than 20% of moustache men in leading positions.
“It also shows the proportion of moustachioed department leaders by medical specialty, which ranged from 2% (1/53) to 31% (17/54). Ten specialties had more than 20% moustachioed department leaders, with the thickest moustache density in psychiatry (31%; 17/54), pathology (30%; 16/53), and anesthesiology (26%; 14/53). Two specialties had fewer than 10% moustaches (general surgery (2%; 1/53) and plastic surgery (4%; 2/52),” the researchers report.