Women Leaders In Medicine Are Rarer Than Dudes With Mustaches

Photo: NBC/Getty Images.
Despite living in the era of hipster facial hair, men with mustaches are actually a minority. When you look at the number of mustached men practicing medicine, there are even fewer. But there's one group those mustaches still outnumber: women leaders in medical fields.
A new study from BMJ revealed that men with mustaches significantly outnumber women in academic medical leadership positions in the top medical schools across the U.S. Yes, this is a real study. And yes, you're totally allowed to think these findings are insane.

The reason that BMJ chose to compare women and mustached men was because men with mustaches in medical leadership positions are so rare. So they wanted to know whether finding women in those roles is even rarer. Sadly, it is. Women accounted for only 13% of department leader positions, while their mustached male counterparts accounted for 19%. Only five specialties — obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, dermatology, family medicine, and emergency medicine — had more than 20% women department heads. Compare that to the 10 specialties that had more than 20% mustached department heads.

These numbers are even more startling given the fact that the number of women in medicine has grown significantly in recent years. In fact, almost 50% of U.S. medical students are women. But those numbers don't translate over into academic medicine, where only 21% of full professors are women.

If you're wondering how BMJ was able to gather this data, it was actually simple. They looked at 1,018 medical department heads by searching the institutional websites to identify leaders; then, they collected those leaders' medical specialties, institutions, genders, and whether they had mustaches.
The researchers concluded that there are two ways to fix this dilemma: either by "increasing the number of women in leadership positions or by asking men in leadership positions to shave their mustaches." Dear academic medical community, please choose the former.

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