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Women Outnumbered by Men with Mustaches in Top Academic Medicine Positions, Study Says

Update Date: Dec 18, 2015 02:47 PM EST
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There's something about a mustache that screams leadership...at least for the medical field.

According to a new study headed by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Berkeley Law and the University of California San Francisco, men with mustaches outnumber women when it comes to holding top leadership positions in academic medicine.

The team found that out of the 1,018 staffers who were from 50 medical schools that were funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only a smart percentage of them were men with mustaches (190 men). Women, however, made up an even smaller group of 130.

"The lack of women in leadership roles in medicine is well-documented, but despite the eccentricities of the study, our results show that even when you focus solely on men with mustaches - which are rare - women are still outnumbered across various specialties," Dr. Mackenzie Wehner of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania said in a statement according to NBC News.

In terms of specialties, only five of them had 20 percent or more women department leaders. These five groups were obstetrics and gynecology with 36 percent, pediatrics with 31 percent, dermatology at 23 percent, and family medicine and emergency medicine both at 21 percent. The number of specialties where there were at least 20 percent of men with mustaches in leadership positions was doubled the women's rate.

For men with mustaches, those who had the thickest ones were more likely to be in psychiatry (31 percent), pathology (30 percent) and anesthesiology (26 percent).

"We defined a mustache as the visible presence of hair on the upper cutaneous lip and included both stand alone mustaches (for example, Copstash Standard, Pencil, Handlebar, Dali, Supermario) as well as mustaches in combination with other facial hair (for example, Van Dyke, Balbo, The Zappa)," the researchers wrote in their study reported by The Washington Post. "Department leaders with facial hairstyles that did not include hair on the upper lip (for example, Mutton Chops, Chin Curtain) were considered not to have a mustache. We evaluated each leader for the presence of facial hair regardless of sex."

They concluded, "We believe that every department and institution should strive for a mustache index ≥1."

The researchers stated that over the past years, the number of women in the medical field has been increasing to the point where one would expect more diversity in those who hold leadership positions. However, they found that in the academic medical world, only 38 percent of full-time faculty members, 21 percent of full-time professors and 16 percent of deans were women.

Although the research was conducted lightheartedly for the holiday edition, the researchers noted that their findings reiterate the problems with gender inequalities, especially when it comes to leadership roles.

"Sex discrepancies in leadership are distressingly common across specialties," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal.

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