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Scientists at prestige universities unaware that mustaches are hot among elite-class men

December 18, 2015

From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:

Mustachioed hipster: Hardly a rare phenomenon

The story is about a research study unveiling this horrifying situation:

“The lack of women in leadership positions in just about every industry is well-documented, but sometimes a study comes along that reminds you just how outrageous that disparity is.

“Case in point: Not only are women outnumbered by men in medical academic department head roles, they’re also outnumbered by men with mustaches, a study of 50 U.S. medical schools published Wednesday in the British Medical Journal found. In other words, even if you removed every one of the 828 non-mustached men identified in the study of 1,018 department heads, leadership in the field would still be male-dominated.”

The three female researchers and lone token male researcher who counted mustaches for the study (published in the British Medical Journal despite its all-Yank subject matter) are all professors at prestigious U.S universities (Penn, UC-Berkeley), which indicates to me that professors at prestigious universities sure have a lot of time on their hands. Maybe it’s that 1/1 teaching load that many of them manage to wangle.

They wrote:

“We chose to study moustaches as the comparator because they are rare (<15% of men from the most recent measures available),5 and we wanted to learn if women were even rarer. Our hypothesis was that fewer women lead academic medical departments in the US than individuals with moustaches.”

***

Well, maybe mustaches are relatively rare in the U.S. male population at large–but not among the educated urban elites who tend to populate medical schools. Maybe the authors of the study had the Burt Reynolds 1970s handlebar in mind when they tagged mustaches as “rare,” but most mustaches these days accompany beards–and the beard is today’s most fashionable thing for a man, especially a young man, to do with his facial hair. A study reported in the Huffington Post just last June found that a full 67 percent of New York City men sport beards. And unless a guy is Amish or highly eccentric, hair on the chin is inevitably accompanied by hair on the upper lip. Mustachioed men, at least among urban sophistos, are scarcely the unicorns that the study paints them as being. The Venn overlap between “men with mustaches” and “men” is, in fact, huge.
Posted by Charlotte Allen
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