Objectives: In 1984 females made up 45% of medical undergraduates in Ireland. By 1996 this proportion had increased to 57%. This study examines gender differences in performance at final medical examinations, with a view to ascertaining the impact of the change in proportion of females attending medical school.
Design: Final year examination results of medical students over a 5-year period (1992-96) were obtained from the broadsheets of University College Dublin (UCD) examinations office. The results of 557 students (females n=277; males=280) were analysed for all final year examinations (n=5).
Setting: University College Dublin.
Subjects: Final year medical students.
Results: Overall females were found to have performed better than their male counterparts. They were more likely to achieve an honours grade and had a similar or lower likelihood of passing or failing. Gender differences in performance were most marked in paediatrics (P < 0.01), psychiatry (P < 0.01) and obstetrics and gynaecology (P=0.01), females being more successful in each case.
Conclusions: The success of females and their increased numbers at undergraduate level are not reflected at senior registrar and consultant level. As medical manpower becomes more of an issue the lack of women, particularly in certain specialties, and the possible reasons for this need to be addressed.