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The Role of Gender in Careers in Medicine: a Systematic Review and Thematic Synthesis of Qualitative Literature

Winkel, Abigail Ford; Telzak, Beatrice; Shaw, Jacquelyn; Hollond, Calder; Magro, Juliana; Nicholson, Joseph; Quinn, Gwendolyn
BACKGROUND:Gender disparities exist in the careers of women in medicine. This review explores the qualitative literature to understand how gender influences professional trajectories, and identify opportunities for intervention. METHODS:A systematic review and thematic synthesis included articles obtained from PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), APA PsycInfo (Ovid), and GenderWatch (ProQuest) on June 26 2020, updated on September 10, 2020. Included studies explored specialty choice, leadership roles, practice setting, burnout, promotion, stigma, mentoring, and organizational culture. Studies taking place outside of the USA, using only quantitative data, conducted prior to 2000, or focused on other health professions were excluded. Data were extracted using a standardized extraction tool and assessed for rigor and quality using a 9-item appraisal tool. A three-step process for thematic synthesis was used to generate analytic themes and construct a conceptual model. The study is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42020199999). FINDINGS/RESULTS:Among 1524 studies identified, 64 were eligible for analysis. Five themes contributed to a conceptual model for the influence of gender on women's careers in medicine that resembles a developmental socio-ecological model. Gender influences career development externally through culture which valorizes masculine stereotypes and internally shapes women's integration of personal and professional values. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Medical culture and structures are implicitly biased against women. Equitable environments in education, mentoring, hiring, promotion, compensation, and support for work-life integration are needed to address gender disparities in medicine. Explicit efforts to create inclusive institutional cultures and policies are essential to support a diverse workforce.
PMID: 33948802
ISSN: 1525-1497
CID: 4866392