The Changing Personal and Professional Characteristics of Women in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Farzaneh Rostami, Anwar E. Ahmed, Al M. Best, Daniel M. Laskin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Purpose: In 1994, Risser and Laskin surveyed practicing female oral and maxillofacial surgeons and those in oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMFS) residency programs to determine the factors that attract women to the field, their attitudes toward the various aspects of the specialty, their current practice patterns, and any biases that they may have encountered. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there have been any changes since that report was published. Materials and Methods: Invitations to participate in an online survey were e-mailed to all practicing female oral and maxillofacial surgeons and female OMFS residents in the United States. Results: One hundred fifty-six of the 281 practicing surgeons (56%) and 60 of 111 residents (54%) responded. Fifty-eight percent of residents were single, whereas 63% of practitioners were married. Most residents were childless (88%), but only 46% of practitioners had no children. Residents were more racially diverse-only 58% Caucasian versus 75% for practitioners. Both residents and practitioners agreed that they were satisfied with the selection of OMFS as a career choice, 91% and 87%, respectively. The major attractions to the field in both groups included liking surgery in general, the combination of dentistry and medicine, and the challenges offered in the specialty. Both practitioners (61%) and residents (60%) still reported a bias against women in their residency. Twenty-nine percent of residents and 38% of practitioners also reported experiencing sexual harassment. Conclusions: Since 1994, there has been a definite increase of women in both residency programs and practice. There is also greater diversity in both groups. The factors attracting women to the field continue to be relatively unchanged. However, there continues to be bias against women in the field, sexual harassment is not uncommon, and there is no evidence this has improved since 1994. Time commitment and social compromises remain the largest deterrents for women entering the specialty of OMFS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-385
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


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