Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 966–968 | Cite as

Eliminating Gender-Based Bias in Academic Medicine: More Than Naming the “Elephant in the Room”

  • Anna U. Morgan
  • Krisda H. Chaiyachati
  • Gary E. Weissman
  • Joshua M. Liao


Gender-based discrimination and bias are widespread in professional settings, including academic medicine. Overt manifestations such as sexual harassment have long been identified but attention is only more recently turning towards subtler forms of bias, including inequity in promotion and compensation. Barriers to progress vary across institutions and include lack of awareness, inadequate training, poor informational transparency, and challenging power dynamics. We propose five solutions that the academic medical community can adopt to not only name, but also address, gender-based bias as the proverbial elephant in the room: definitively identify the systemic nature of the problem, prompt those with influence and power to advance a culture of equity, broadly incorporate evidence-based explicit anti-sexist training, increase transparency of information related to professional development and compensation, and use robust research methods to study the drivers and potential solutions of gender inequity within academic medicine. While implementing these proposals is no small task, doing so is an important step in helping the academic medical community become more just.


workforce medical culture professionalism physician behavior 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Katrina A. Armstrong and Dr. Judy A. Shea for their review of earlier versions of this manuscript for which they were not financially compensated.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna U. Morgan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Krisda H. Chaiyachati
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gary E. Weissman
    • 2
    • 5
    • 6
  • Joshua M. Liao
    • 2
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine Harbor-UCLA Medical CenterTorranceUSA
  2. 2.Leonard Davis Institute of Health EconomicsUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Cpl. Michael J. Crescenz Veterans Affairs Medical CenterPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine, Department of MedicineHospital of the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  6. 6.Palliative and Advanced Illness Research Center, Perelman School of MedicineUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  7. 7.Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  8. 8.UW Medicine Center for Scholarship in Patient Care Quality and SafetyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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