Women otolaryngologist representation in specialty society membership and leadership positions


  • Sukgi S. Choi MD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Division of Otolaryngology, Children's National Medical Center, George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, U.S.A
    • Children's National Medical Center, 111 Michigan Ave. NW Washington, DC 20010
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  • Robert H. Miller MD, MBA

    1. Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
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  • The authors have no funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.



To determine the proportion of female otolaryngologists in leadership positions relative to their number in the specialty, their membership in various otolaryngology organizations, and age.

Study Design:

Cross-sectional analyses of otolaryngology organization membership with a subgroup analysis on female membership and leadership proportion comparing 5-year male/female cohort groups.


Information on the number of members and leaders was obtained from various specialty societies by direct communication and from their Web sites between June and December 2010. The number of female and male otolaryngologists and their age distribution in 5-year age groups was obtained from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS). Statistical analyses were used to determine whether women had proportional membership and leadership representation in various specialty societies. Additionally, female representation in other leadership roles was analyzed using the male/female ratio within the 5-year cohort groups.


Female otolaryngologists were found to constitute approximately 11% of practicing otolaryngologists. The American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology had a higher proportion of female members (22%) compared to five other societies. When the gender composition within each organization was taken into account, female representation in specialty society leadership positions was proportionate to their membership across all societies. When gender and age were considered, women have achieved proportionate representation in each of the specialty societies' leadership positions. There was also proportionate representation of females as program directors, American Board of Otolaryngology directors, Residency Review Committee members, and journal editors/editorial board members. Finally, fewer female chairs or chiefs of departments/divisions were seen, but when age was taken into consideration, this difference was no longer significant.


Women have achieved parity in otolaryngology leadership positions. As the number and seniority of women increase, the specialty should continue to monitor representation of women in leadership positions. Laryngoscope, 2012