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SheMD Journal Club - #MedicineToo—Gender Bias in Medical Training: A National Survey of Residents

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

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, #MedicineToo—Gender Bias in Medical Training: A National Survey of Residents by Kianna R. Jackson MD & Brian C. Drolet MD

Why is this article important?

Gender bias and sexual harassment are ongoing issues in the American workforce in and out of medicine. The “Me Too” movement has called attention to these issues. This article evaluates the experiences related to sexual harrassement within medical training.

Article Summary

What they looked at:

  • This study looked at the prevalence, experiences, and effects of gender bias within US medical training using a national cohort of all specialties.

How they measured things:

  • The authors sent out a survey to the designated institutional officials (DIOs) at all 858 ACGME sponsoring institutions (aka all the places that have residency programs). 142 DIOs agrees to participate and shared the survey with their residents.

What were their outcomes:

  • Female respondents were significantly more likely to report being treated differently based on gender (93% for women respondents vs 53% for men respondents). Males in twp specialities, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, were more likely to report feeling that they are treated differently based on gender.

  • Females were more likely to report receiving uncomfortable remarks about their appearance (84% for women respondents vs 48% for men respondents) or family planning (69% for women respondents vs 27% for men respondents)

  • Female respondents were also more likely to report receiving sexist comments or jokes (85% for women respondents vs 36% for men respondents), or unwanted sexual advances within the workplace (54% for women respondents vs 33% for men respondents).

  • When asked about the effect of these biases, nearly three times as many female respondents reported increased feelings of burnout (37% for women respondents vs 13% for men respondents )

  • Of note- this study did collect responses from non-binary residents, but did no report the numbers are they were very small and difficult to interpret in the setting of the larger cohort.

Why do we care about this article?

What does this mean?

  • Women are more likely to report being treated differently because of their gender. This includes comments about their appearance and family planning. As well as sexual harrassment in the form of comments/jokes and unwanted sexual advances. Women residents report that these experiences contribute to burnout, which may play a factor in the higher rates of burnout for female physicians.

  • Males in pediatrics and OBGYN reported that they were treated differently based on their gender. Interestingly, these specialties have some of the lowest percentages of male physicians in practice, with Pediatrics having 35.7% and obstetrics and gynecology having 41.1% according to the AAMC as of 2019.

How does this apply to us?

  • It is important that all physicians (and physicians in training) are aware of these experiences.

Take Home Point

  • Women and men report different experiences around their gender in medical training.

  • Sexual harassment is seen in medical training, with over 50% of women respondents reporting some sort of sexual harassment.

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