Gender Bias of Ohio Physicians in the Evaluation of the Personal Statements of Residency Applicants

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Sexism has been documented at every level of medical training as well as in the community of practicingphysicians. Although there is speculation in the literature about sexist attitudes and perceived sexualdiscrimination influencing a medical student's choice of specialty, there are few data on gender bias in theevaluation of residency candidates applying in different specialties. In 1989, the authors created six personalstatements of interest in a residency, each from a different type of fictitious residency candidate (three men, threewomen, at three levels of medical school achievement) and mailed one or another of the statements, chosen atrandom, to the 2,478 board-certified Ohio physicians practicing in six specialties in which U.S. women inresidencies were underrepresented (less than 12%) compared with the percentage of women in medical schools, and to the 3,586 board-certified Ohio physicians in another six specialties in which women in residencies wereoverrepresented (more than 38%). The physicians consistently rated the women candidates more favorably thanthey did the men candidates.