Gender and Medicine

Although we live in the 21st century, the problem of gender bias is unfortunately still relevant, even in medicine. This is particularly true for surgical specialties. In surgical specialties one’s technical skill can be put into question due to one’s gender. In a 2015 study female surgical residents were given a brief stress-reducing writing exercise, known as values affirmation, to try decrease the negative effects of stereotypes associated with female surgical residents. Female residents in a surgical residency program were either randomized to receive affirmations or not. The results are surprising, women in the affirmations group received higher clinical evaluation scores than the control group. The male group had no difference in the affirmation vs. no affirmation group. This study highlights the importance of psychological barriers created for female physicians by our peers that can affect their performance. During my four years of medical school, gender bias in medicine was not once discussed openly. Perhaps, these affirmations can start in medical school before young female students are exposed to negative stereotypes.


  1. Arghavan Salles,Claudia M. Mueller, and Geoffrey L. Cohen (2016) A Values Affirmation Intervention to Improve Female Residents’ Surgical Performance. Journal of Graduate Medical Education: July 2016, Vol. 8, No. 3, pp. 378-383.


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