Women Doctors more often wear White Coats in Media Protrayals

In pictures in the 2 largest medical journals in Sweden over a period of 1 year the majority (64%) of women doctors were dressed in white coats. The majority of male doctors (59%) appeared in civil dress.

The author of the letter to the editor in Medical Education asks herself if women still need to wear a white coat to be recognized as doctors and not be mistaken for nurses. Such images may maintain and reinforce gender inequalities. High-prestige specialties such as cardiology and neurosurgery are dominated by men, whereas psychiatry, dermatology and geriatrics are dominated by women.

The role of media representations as cause for this segregation has been studied by the author and her team in a research project at the Medical School in Umea, Sweden.

They investigated how female and male doctors were presented in the 2 largest medical journals in Sweden. All picture during a period of 1 year were counted and their relevant details gathered and analyzed.

1. Of all pictures 66% presented men, the actual percentage in the workforce in that year was 60%.
2. 85% of pictures in editorials were from men, in debates 77% and 70% in marks of honor featured men.
3. Women featured more often in chronicles (53%), columns and personal diaries.
4. Men were more often pictured in leading, demonstrating or speaking positions
5. Women were more often depicted in consultations or in bedside activities.

Eva E Johansson, Hanna Röjlar, Bodil Eriksson, Kristina Frisk (2008)
Gender differences in media portrayals of doctors: a challenge in the socialisation of next-generation doctors
Medical Education 42 (2), 226–226.
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