An additional cause for physician burnout is unconscious and unrecognized pervasive gender bias. This is a deep, below the surface bias, and it comes from every area of health care. It is even common for women to exhibit gender bias toward other women. 

Female Internists…

  • Have Lower 30-day mortality and readmission rates in elderly patients compared with male colleagues in the same hospital  (Tsugawa Y, Jena AB, Figueroa JF, 2017)

  • Attract more female patients

  • Spend more time on office visits discussing preventative care/psychosocial issues

  • Have more talkative male patients  (McMurray JE, Linzer M, Konrad TR, 2000)

Being held to higher standards of performance.

Additionally, our society expects female physicians to be self-modest, motherly, of service at all times, do the heavy lifting & housework for the practice, and take on the most thankless committees. The burden to clean up, get coffee, take extra calls on short notice, purchase gifts for the staff, and say yes to all requests often falls on the shoulders of female physicians.

Male physicians are expected to be dominant, self-assured, setter of boundaries, order givers. These qualities make male physicians appear more suitable for leadership roles even if they don’t have the experience to fill these roles.  Men are frequently given the benefit of the doubt and given the role rather than women, who in general are judged more harshly.

I explore this in greater detail in my published manuscript, Female Physician Wellness: Are Expectations of Ourselves Extreme?

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