Implicit gender bias among US resident physicians

Matt Hansen, Amanda Schoonover, Barbara Skarica, Tabria Harrod, Nathan Bahr, Jeanne Marie Guise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The purpose of this study was to characterize implicit gender bias among residents in US Emergency Medicine and OB/GYN residencies. Methods: We conducted a survey of all allopathic Emergency Medicine and OB/GYN residency programs including questions about leadership as well as an implicit association test (IAT) for unconscious gender bias. We used descriptive statistics to analyze the Likert-type survey responses and used standard IAT analysis methods. We conducted univariate and multivariate analyses to identify factors that were associated with implicit bias. We conducted a subgroup analysis of study sites involved in a multi-site intervention study to determine if responses were different in this group. Results: Overall, 74% of the programs had at least one respondent. Out of 14,234 eligible, 1634 respondents completed the survey (11.5%). Of the five sites enrolled in the intervention study, 244 of 359 eligible residents completed the survey (68%). Male residents had a mean IAT score of 0.31 (SD 0.23) and females 0.14 (SD 0.24), both favoring males in leadership roles and the difference was statistically significant (p < 0.01). IAT scores did not differ by postgraduate year (PGY). Multivariable analysis of IAT score and participant demographics confirmed a significant association between female gender and lower IAT score. Explicit bias favoring males in leadership roles was associated with increased implicit bias favoring males in leadership roles (r = 0.1 p < 0.001). Conclusions: We found that gender bias is present among US residents favoring men in leadership positions, this bias differs between male and female residents, and is associated with discipline. Implicit bias did not differ across training years, and is associated with explicit bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number396
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 29 2019


  • Gender bias
  • Graduate medical education
  • Implicit bias
  • Leadership
  • Medical education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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