AMA Delegates Recommend Policies to Reduce Gender Inequality in Medical Research

The American Medical Association (AMA) approved several initiatives in an attempt to level the playing field for men and women in medicine. The recommendations are intended to eliminate gender bias in grant proposals and the peer review process, and to define appropriate meeting conduct and sexual harassment protocols within the association.

For women to gain equal consideration for grants and publications as men, with whom they compete for space in medical journals and for research dollars, the process needs to be “blinded” by removing the names and gender identity from applications, said Smitha Arekapudi, MD, an alternate delegate for the Illinois State Medical Association, during a committee discussion prior to the resolution’s endorsement.

Multiple studies have shown that among grant proposals in the peer-review process, those written by women are frequently scored lower than those by men. Other studies show that male job applicants in the basic sciences are perceived as superior and deserving of higher compensation, even when the only difference in the application submitted is the name, Dr. Arekapudi noted.

Samuel Wong, MD, a delegate of the AMA’s Young Physicians Section, expressed concern that removing a name entirely could minimize the significance of an individual’s “established research background” and his or her publication history – a vital determinant in grant funding. He advised minimizing, but not eliminating, gender information. Dr. Arekapudi countered that even after blinding names, it is still possible to evaluate a candidate’s experience and achievements using other methods.

ASH Clinical News took a deep dive into gender equality in medicine with a July 2018 article, “Leveling the Playing Field.”

Source: MedPage Today, June 11, 2019.