“I just assume they don't know that I'm the doctor”: Gender bias & professional identity development
Updated: Feb 25
Here at sheMD, we believe in the importance of practicing Evidence-Based Medicine. We believe the same principles apply to discussing Gender and Medical Education. Therefore, we are bringing you an entire Journal Club series! Our series focuses on foundational and new literature within the gender and medicine space.
Journal Club Link to Article:
Here at sheMD, we believe in the importance of practicing Evidence-Based Medicine. We believe the same principles apply to discussing Gender and Medical Education. Therefore, we are bringing you an entire Journal Club series! Our series will focus on foundational and new literature within the gender and medicine space.
Today, we will be discussing the article entitled, “I just assume they don’t know that I’m the doctor”: Gender bias and professional identity development of women residents.
Why is this article important?
This article focuses on gender bias and its impact on professional development and identity in the female residents. As female residents it is important to know that your professional identity is being formed while in residency and will be influenced consciously, or unconsciously by gender bias.Female residents may often have to work harder to convey their medical competency to both patients and colleagues despite medical knowledge.
What they looked at:
Gender Identity and factors that may impact professional development among female residents in Emergency Medicine at Emory University
How they measured things:
Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were performed with female emergency medicine residents of various ethnic backgrounds and levels of training. Interviews were performed on a virtual platform. They were recorded, transcribed and then a study team met to go over common themes within the interviews.
What were their outcomes:
All participants recognized challenges in conveying their competency related to their gender and role as a physician.
Commonly faced role confusion and questioning of their medical decisions, by not only patients, but colleagues
Residents came up with different strategies to help them overcome these biases
Why do we care about this article?
What does this mean?
As female residents we may often be at a disadvantage from the beginning in that we have to work harder to prove ourselves to both our patients and colleagues when compared to our male counterparts. Interventions on both small and large scale should be considered to help support our fellow women in medicine.
How does this apply to us?
We may have to personally come up with strategies to help justify our position and medical decisions.
Our professional identity is being shaped by these interactions
Take Home Point
Female residents face challenges that their male counterparts may not have to, just based solely on gender. Residency is a time that one develops who they are as a physician and their practice patterns and professional identity are shaped by these interactions. Interventions that support female residents and their unique challenges based on gender should be considered very important.