Medical residents biased toward male leadership, study finds

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Medical residents unconsciously prefer male leaders — a bias that could have a "profound impact" on leadership and patient care, according to a study published Oct. 29 in BMC Medical Education.

Researchers based the study on a survey and implicit association test, completed by 1,634 emergency medicine and obstetrics and gynecology residents. They found both male and female residents were biased toward men in leadership roles; however, male residents more strongly favored male leadership.

The researchers also found differences by specialty. Emergency medicine residents are mostly male and OB-GYN residents are mostly female, and leadership in each specialty follows these gender patterns. As such, the difference in implicit bias among men and women in emergency medicine was much greater than that of the OB-GYN residents. The researchers speculated that this may be because OB-GYN residents are more accustomed to female leadership.

The results indicate gender bias is a significant issue among residents in the U.S., and unconscious attitudes could not only shape teams at hospitals, but also shape how those teams work together, ultimately affecting patient care.  

"Since there has been parity in medical student gender proportions for decades, and the current generation exhibits this bias, passive solutions to gender bias are unlikely to be successful in resolving this problem," the researchers note. "There is no evidence that men are rated higher and preferred as leaders because men are actually better medical team leaders compared to women."

Read more here.

 

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