The Research Abstract
A 2011 survey was distributed to all female perfusionists in the United States, suggesting that they share the same difficulties as women in the labor force. Over the last ten years, women’s role in society has drastically changed. Promoting equality and diversity is extremely important in today’s workforce, and perfusionists have been a significant part of that evolution.
Women make up nearly half of the U.S. labor force and 35.7% of the perfusion workforce in North America. Additionally, women make 82 cents for every dollar that men make, with this disparity widening for women with more education.
A second survey was distributed in December 2021 to evaluate the status and change in gender stereotypes in perfusion over the last ten years, particularly addressing concerns and opinions in their careers. The 39-question survey was distributed via social media websites and received 384 responses compared to 538 responses on the original survey in 2011. Some participant statistics from this study included:
- 32.1% of participants have been used in perfusion for more than 20 years
- 37.6% have earned a Master’s degree compared to 2011
- 18.3% had Masters level education
- 72.5% are the financial providers for their family
- 61.5% consider themselves under moderate stress compared to 63% in 2011
- 94.3% take call regularly
- 74.1% feel that they miss essential family functions because of their schedules
- 62.8% felt discriminated against because of gender compared to 50.9% in 2011
The data from this study suggests that female perfusionists are assertive, but further research is needed to determine whether they are treated with comparable respect as their male perfusionist colleagues–with 50% reporting discrimination or harassment in their workplace.
Results of the Study
Caucasians made up most of the 2011 study’s female participants, while 84.7% of the 2021 responders were white with a combination of Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or other. Results showed that female perfusionists make well above the national median income of full-time working women in 2019. In 2021, 72.5% of these women were the financial providers in their families compared to 61.6% in 2011.
Results also showed that 18.3% of respondents had a Master’s degree in 2011 versus 37% in 2021, with 3% of these women also holding a Doctorate degree. Additionally, 61% of women reported working while pregnant and taking a leave of absence after delivery. Of the women surveyed, 61.2% of them have children, with 76.4% having one or more children.
Female perfusionists reported working 45 hours every week, with 94.3% taking call. This percentage is similar to the results of the 2011 survey. This study said 74.1% of respondents missed family functions because of scheduling conflicts, with more than 51.9% taking zero days off for family. These percentages showcased them receiving the same respect as their male colleagues. Female perfusionists even reported feeling more respect because they were women.
This study proved that a perfusion career comes with many stressors, and maintaining a balanced family life was challenging. Women with more education still face difficulties in the workplace. Even though women face a disparity in their earnings, they’ve advanced in the workplace, with 19.3% of female perfusionists surveyed holding chief perfusionist positions. However, these women have still felt discriminated.
Female perfusionists predominantly work in a male-dominated workplace. Deconstructing gender stereotypes in the surgical environment translates to gender bias in the operating room. This study concludes that expecting women to behave differently and put in more effort than their male colleagues to get the same results is gender bias that must be addressed. Companies must create a diverse and inclusive work environment to reduce the gender gap.
Meet Linda Mongero
Linda Mongero details her career and shares advice for other women entering perfusion and her hopes for the future.
Can you give us a brief timeline of your career path?
I graduated from Ashland University and entered Shadyside School of Cardiovascular Perfusion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Six students per year were accepted for training, and three were women. My first job was in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I worked at Christ Hospital doing 800 cases per year. Three other perfusionists were male.
I moved to the New York area, took a job at Columbia-Presbyterian MC, and married my husband, Frank Mongero. I was the fifth of a perfusion team with only one male perfusionist. I briefly worked on Long Island at the Long Island Jewish MC when we moved to buy our first home. The perfusion team was all-male, and I was the fifth team member.
After five years at LIJ, Columbia asked me to rejoin the team as they were building a Transplant and VAD program. For the next 32 years, I worked at the NY-Columbia University MC, and it’s here that I worked on most of my research. I started at Columbia with five perfusionists, and by the time I left to join SpecialtyCare, I had 30 perfusionists working with me.
I was very comfortable at NYP-Columbia, and it was a difficult decision to move out of that comfort zone. Still, Sam Weinstein asked me to come and join SpecialtyCare, where he had 450 perfusionists working. I thought, “what an amazing opportunity to work with so many new perfusionists.” This is my 7th year with SpecialtyCare.
What is a major takeaway you hope readers gain from this piece?
Very simply, to always keep an open mind and be malleable in your person to allow change along the way. It’s not enough to worry about being a woman in any career path, but instead, always do your very best and persevere as you make your way.
What advice do you have for women considering a career in perfusion?
I never considered that being a woman was different from being a man in perfusion. I did all of the same procedures, physical activity, and rigors for the job as a perfusionist. I was a leader, researcher, and a mom, too! If you have good help at home, it makes all the difference. It’s not easy to juggle a career and children for any woman professional, so push up the shirt sleeves and dig in.
If you could go back in time and speak to yourself about beginning your career, what would you say?
I’d say I should have read more. There never seem to be enough hours in the day to spend reading and learning. Perhaps, I will be in retirement.
What are your hopes for your future?
I’ll be retiring this year and look forward to some time off—but not for long. I’ll consult given the opportunity. I’ll also spend time painting, golfing, and cooking for fun.
What is one way you like to unwind after a long day?
I’ve never really been one to unwind. I run the battery all day long and then hit the sack for sleep. Then, I start all over again the next day. Perfusion is a 24/7 job, so you get used to this.
What is a struggle in the workforce that you feel is specific only to women?
I think that a lack of confidence keeps women from taking leadership positions.
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