Objective: To evaluate whether gender bias against male obstetricians and other male physicians is found in popular women's magazines.
Methods: Issues of Cosmopolitan, Fitness, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, and Redbook were searched for medically related articles from July 2001 to December 2002. The articles were analyzed for the number and gender of physicians quoted, the number of gender-specific pronouns and negative gender-specific pronouns, and the number of pictured physicians by gender.
Results: Female obstetrician-gynecologists were interviewed as health care resources 47-80% of the time, which is higher than expected when compared with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists membership numbers (P < .01). A similar phenomenon was found when discussing physicians in general (P < .001). Female physicians were more than 20 times more likely to have an identifying photograph. Pronouns used to identify negative physician traits accounted for 17% of the total pronouns when identifying female obstetrician-gynecologists and other specialties but accounted for 92% of the total pronouns when identifying male obstetrician-gynecologists and 77% of the pronouns when identifying other male physicians (P < .001). In 5 magazines, physicians had their quoted gender pronouns changed from gender neutral to reflect female-specific pronouns.
Conclusion: In women's interest magazines, there is a gender bias against male obstetrician-gynecologists as well as male physicians in general. This may serve to undermine the physician-patient relationship and be detrimental to women's health care.
Level of evidence: III.