Closing the gender gap in medicine: the impact of a simulation-based confidence and negotiation course for women in graduate medical education

Anna Bona, Rami Ahmed, Lauren Falvo, Julie Welch, Melanie Heniff, Dylan Cooper, Elisa Sarmiento, Cherri Hobgood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Currently, 75–80% of the medical workforce worldwide consists of women. Yet, women comprise 21% of full professors and less than 20% of department chairs and medical school deans. Identified causes of gender disparities are multifactorial including work-life responsibilities, gender discrimination, sexual harassment, bias, lack of confidence, gender differences in negotiation and leadership emergence, and lack of mentorship, networking, and/or sponsorship. A promising intervention for the advancement of women faculty is the implementation of Career Development Programs (CDPs). Women physician CDP participants were shown to be promoted in rank at the same rate as men by year five, and more likely to remain in academics after eight years compared to both men and women counterparts. The objective of this pilot study is to investigate the effectiveness of a novel, simulation-based, single-day CDP curriculum for upper-level women physician trainees to teach communication skills identified as contributing to medicine’s gender advancement gap. Methods: This was a pilot, pre/post study performed in a simulation center implementing a curriculum developed to educate women physicians on 5 identified communication skills recognized to potentially reduce the gender gap. Pre- and post-intervention assessments included confidence surveys, cognitive questionnaires, and performance action checklists for five workplace scenarios. Assessment data were analyzed using scored medians and descriptive statistics, applying Wilcoxon test estimation to compare pre- versus post-curriculum intervention scores, with p < 0.05 considered statistically significant. Results: Eleven residents and fellows participated in the curriculum. Confidence, knowledge, and performance improved significantly after completion of the program. Pre-confidence: 28 (19.0–31.0); Post-confidence: 41 (35.0–47.0); p < 0.0001. Pre-knowledge: 9.0 (6.0–11.00); Post knowledge: 13.0 (11.0–15.0); p < 0.0001. Pre-performance: 35.0 (16.0–52.0); Post-performance: 46.0 (37–53.00); p < 0.0001. Conclusion: Overall, this study demonstrated the successful creation of a novel, condensed CDP curriculum based on 5 identified communication skills needed for women physician trainees. The post-curriculum assessment demonstrated improved confidence, knowledge, and performance. Ideally, all women medical trainees would have access to convenient, accessible, and affordable courses teaching these crucial communication skills to prepare them for careers in medicine to strive to reduce the gender gap.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number243
JournalBMC medical education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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