Applicant gender and matching to first-choice discipline: a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Canadian Resident Matching Service (2013-2019)

CMAJ Open. 2020 May 7;8(2):E346-E351. doi: 10.9778/cmajo.20190029. Print 2020 Apr-Jun.


Background: Previous studies examining potential sex and gender bias in the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) match have had conflicting results. We examined the results of the CaRMS match over the period 2013-2019 to determine the potential association between applicants' gender and the outcome of matching to their first-choice discipline.

Methods: In this cross-sectional analysis, we determined the risk of matching to one's first-choice discipline in CaRMS by applicant gender and year, for all Canadian medical students who participated in the first iteration of the R-1 match for the years 2013 to 2019. We analyzed data in 3 categories of disciplines according to CaRMS classifications: family medicine, nonsurgical disciplines and surgical disciplines. We excluded disciplines with fewer than 10 applicants.

Results: Match results were available for 20 033 participants, of whom 11 078 (55.3%) were female. Overall, female applicants were significantly more likely to match to their first-choice discipline (relative risk [RR] 1.03, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02-1.04). After adjustment for match year and stratification by discipline categories, we found that female applicants were more likely to match to family medicine as their first choice (RR 1.04, 95% CI 1.03-1.05) and less likely to match to a first-choice surgical discipline (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.91-1.00) than their male peers. There was no significant difference between the genders in matching to one's first-choice nonsurgical discipline (RR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99-1.03).

Interpretation: These results suggest an association between an applicant's gender and the probability of matching to one's first-choice discipline. The possibility of gender bias in the application process for residency programs should be further evaluated and monitored.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Career Choice*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Specialization
  • Students, Medical*