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01-06-2014 | Review Article | Uitgave 3/2014 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 3/2014

Gendered specialities during medical education: a literature review

Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 3/2014
Margret Alers, Lotte van Leerdam, Patrick Dielissen, Antoine Lagro-Janssen


The careers of male and female physicians indicate gender differences, whereas in medical education a feminization is occurring. Our review aims to specify gender-related speciality preferences during medical education. A literature search on gender differences in medical students’ speciality preferences was conducted in PubMed, Eric, Embase and Social Abstracts, and reference lists from January 2000 to June 2013. Study quality was assessed by critical appraisal. Our search yielded 741 hits and included 14, mostly cross-sectional, studies originating from various countries. No cohort studies were found. Throughout medical education, surgery is predominantly preferred by men and gynaecology, paediatrics and general practice by women. Internal medicine was pursued by both genders. The extent of gender-specific speciality preferences seemed related to the male-to-female ratio in the study population. When a population contained more male students gynaecology seemed even more preferred by women, while in a more feminine population, men more highly preferred surgery. Internationally, throughout medical education, gender-related speciality preferences are apparent. The extent might be influenced by the male-to-female ratio of a study population. Further research of the role of gender in career considerations of medical students on the future workforce is necessary.
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