Background: While increasing proportions of medical students and residents are women, the proportion of women in the advanced ranks of medicine remains small. This study describes gender differences among residents concerning interest in academic medicine and related influences.
Method: A survey instrument was mailed to all 308 first- and third-year residents at the University of Washington School of Medicine in the late summer of 1993. The survey assessed interest in academic careers, values, psychological traits, exposure to mentoring, and perceived role stress. Frequency analysis and chi-square analysis were performed to compare the distribution responses by gender within the entire respondent group and within the first-year and third-year subgroups.
Results: A total of 180 (58%) of all first- and third-year residents responded; 99 (55%) were men. Although the level of interest in academic careers was similar among first-year male and female residents, the level of interest was greater among third-year men than among third-year women. Women overall were less likely to consider it personally important to achieve national recognition. Women in the third (but not the first) year of residency were significantly less likely than men to agree that leading others was personally important to them. Women reported feeling less confident, were less likely to have identified a faculty member who had successfully balanced career and personal life, and were significantly more likely to feel under stress and to have interrupted their careers for childbearing.
Conclusion: The interest in academic careers appeared to be lower among third-year female residents than among third-year male residents, despite the similar interests in academic medicine among male and female first-year residents. Increasing role stress among women in training may explain the reduced interest in leadership and academic careers among women at more advanced levels of training.