Gendered Differences in Letters of Recommendation for Transplant Surgery Fellowship Applicants

Arika Hoffman, Wendy Grant, Melanie McCormick, Emily Jezewski, Praise Matemavi, Alan Norman Langnas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: No published study has explored gender differences in letters of recommendation for applicants entering surgical subspecialty fellowships. Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of letters of recommendation to a transplant surgery fellowship written for residents finishing general surgery residency programs. A dictionary of communal and agentic terms was used to explore differences of the letters based on applicant's gender as well as the academic rank and gender of the author. Results: Of the 311 reviewed letters, 228 were letters of recommendation written for male applicants. Male surgeons wrote 92.4% of the letters. Male applicant letters were significantly more likely to contain agentic terms such as superb, intelligent, and exceptional (p = 0.00086). Additionally, male applicant letters were significantly more likely to contain “future leader” (p = 0.047). Letters written by full professors, division chiefs, and program directors were significantly more likely to describe female applicants using communal terms like compassionate, calm, and delightful (p = 0.0301, p = 0.036, p = 0.036, respectively). In letters written by assistant professors, female letters of recommendation had significantly more references to family (p = 0.036). Conclusions: Gendered differences exist in letters of recommendation for surgical fellowship applicants. This research may provide insight into the inherent gender bias that is revealed in letters supporting candidates entering the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-432
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

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applicant
surgery
Transplants
Sexism
Internship and Residency
gender
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Research
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director
gender-specific factors
candidacy
leader
resident
trend

Keywords

  • Gender bias
  • Gender disparities in surgery
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • LOR
  • Practice-Based Learning and Improvement
  • Professionalism
  • Transplant fellowship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Education

Cite this

Gendered Differences in Letters of Recommendation for Transplant Surgery Fellowship Applicants. / Hoffman, Arika; Grant, Wendy; McCormick, Melanie; Jezewski, Emily; Matemavi, Praise; Langnas, Alan Norman.

In: Journal of Surgical Education, Vol. 76, No. 2, 01.03.2019, p. 427-432.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Hoffman, Arika ; Grant, Wendy ; McCormick, Melanie ; Jezewski, Emily ; Matemavi, Praise ; Langnas, Alan Norman. / Gendered Differences in Letters of Recommendation for Transplant Surgery Fellowship Applicants. In: Journal of Surgical Education. 2019 ; Vol. 76, No. 2. pp. 427-432.
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