Am J Otolaryngol. 2022 May-Jun;43(3):103427. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2022.103427. Epub 2022 Apr 5.
PURPOSE: To describe the changes in workforce gender distribution over time and characterize geographically where women are finding job opportunities within the field of otolaryngology.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes a Physician Compare National Downloadable File, which lists all active providers registered within CMS, as well as specialty, medical school graduation, and current practice location. The file of March 2021 was filtered for all providers that listed “otolaryngology” as their primary specialty. Providers were sorted based on medical school graduation year. Physicians were organized into five-year and ten-year quantiles, based on career experience. For each quantile, the gender distribution was recorded. For each decade of experience, the geographic distribution of gender was recorded at a state-by-state level. Descriptive statistics were conducted to characterize the number of female otolaryngologists per state. The geographic distribution of male versus female physicians was superimposed onto state boundary files as published by the U.S. Census Bureau using R Studio (2020) .
RESULTS: The Physician Compare National Database listed 1719 women (19.0%) and 7292 men (81.0%) otolaryngologists actively registered to practice in the United States. By career periods, the following proportions of otolaryngologists were women: 1-5 years, 317/971 (32.6%); 6-10 years, 417/1291 (32.3%); 11-15 years, 299/1159 (25.8%); 16-20 years, 207/1108 (18.7%); 21-25 years, 190/1156 (16.4%); 26-30 years, 138/1141 (12.1%); 31-35 years, 86/968 (8.9%); 36+ years, 60/1212 (5.0%). The linear regression of the male-female distribution data suggests that the proportion of men and women in practice in otolaryngology will equalize nationally in the 2030s. By geographic distribution, the mean and median number of female otolaryngologists per state was 34.3 (19.0%) and 21 (17.2%), respectively. The number of female otolaryngologists by state ranged from 2 (Idaho) to 258 (California). States with the lowest percentage of female otolaryngologists included Idaho (2/51, 3.9%), Oklahoma (5/86, 5.8%), and Utah (6/99, 6.1%). There has been a national increase in the percentage of women practicing in otolaryngology over the last several decades.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a significantly higher proportion of female otolaryngologists within earlier practice years, which suggests that progress has been made toward closing the gender gap within this field. The geographic distribution of female otolaryngologists is highly variable and should be studied further to assess what factors contribute to more females choosing to practice in these regions to continue to build regional support networks for women within the field.