Gender Bias in Nurse Evaluations of Residents in Obstetrics and Gynecology


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Abstract

PURPOSE:We examined the evaluations given by nurses to obstetrics and gynecology residents to estimate whether gender bias was evident.BACKGROUND:Women receive more negative feedback and evaluations than men—from both sexes. Some suggest that, to be successful in traditionally male roles such as surgeon, women must manifest a warmth-related (communal) rather than competence-related (agentic) demeanor. Compared with male residents, female residents experience more interpersonal difficulties and less help from female nurses. We examined feedback provided to residents by female nurses.METHODS:We examined Professional Associate Questionnaires (2006–2014) using a mixed-methods design. We compared scores per training year by gender using Mann-Whitney and linear regression adjusting for resident and nurse cohorts. Using grounded theory analysis, we developed a coding system for blinded comments based on principles of effective feedback, medical learners' evaluation, and impression management. χ2 examined the proportions of negative and positive and communal and agentic comments between genders.RESULTS:We examined 2,202 evaluations: 397 (18%) for 10 men and 1,805 (82%) for 34 women. Twenty-three compliments (eg, “Great resident!”) were excluded. Evaluations per training year varied: men n=77–134; women n=384–482. Postgraduate year (PGY)-1, PGY-2, and PGY-4 women had lower mean ratings (P<.035); when adjusted, the difference remained significant in PGY-2 (MWomen=1.5±0.6 compared with MMen=1.7±0.5; P=.001). Postgraduate year-1 women received disproportionately fewer positive and more negative agentic comments than PGY-1 men (positive=17.3% compared with 40%, negative=17.3% compared with 3.3%, respectively; P=.041).CONCLUSION:Evidence of gender bias in evaluations emerged; albeit subtle, women received harsher feedback as lower-level residents than men. Training in effective evaluation and gender bias management is warranted.

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