The Dirty Truth About Feedback

In general, female emergency medicine residents are more likely than their male colleagues to: 

 

  • have lower reported milestone attainment in a pattern reflective of bias

  • receive negative personality-related feedback

  • receive conflicting feedback (especially as it relates to confidence, leadership/independence, and receptiveness to feedback)

 

Male and female faculty tend to contribute to gender bias in evaluation equally. 

 

Obviously, none of us are purposefully discriminating against some of learners. We can all do better, but it will take us conscientiously reflecting on and changing our feedback practices. When giving feedback or evaluating residents and students, consider whether you would give the same feedback to a trainee of a different gender. Male residents are often praised for demonstrating stereotypically male characteristics such as independence and assertiveness. Despite the value placed on these traits in our specialty, female EM residents often incur a penalty for violating gender stereotypes. One strategy to combat gender-related evaluation bias is to avoid discussion of personality traits completely and emphasize behaviors, but you’ll still have to check your biases, especially when the behaviors relate to leadership/independence, decision making, and receiving feedback.

Feedback Best Practices

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, here are some best practices for giving great feedback, instituting a culture of feedback, and integrating feedback into clinical shifts when things get busy.