Medical student gender and issues of confidence

Danielle C. Blanch, Judith A. Hall, Debra L. Roter, Richard M. Frankel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


Objective: To review the literature on gender differences and issues of self-confidence in medical students and to present original research on observers' perceptions of medical student confidence. Methods: One hundred forty-one 3rd year medical students at Indiana University School of Medicine were videotaped during their objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Trained coders rated how confident the student appeared and coded a variety of nonverbal behaviors at the beginning, middle, and end of the interaction. Analysis focused on gender differences in coders' ratings of perceived confidence. Results: Female medical students were viewed as significantly less confident than male medical students (F(1,133) = 4.45, p < 0.05), especially at the beginning of the interaction. Conclusion: Past research indicates that despite performing equally to their male peers, female medical students consistently report decreased self-confidence and increased anxiety, particularly over issues related to their competence. In a standardized patient interaction examination situation, female medical students also appeared significantly less confident than male medical students to independent observers. Practice implications: Medical educators should focus on issues of female students' confidence, increasing faculty sensitivity, and publicly recognizing and discussing perceptions of confidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)374-381
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Anxiety
  • Communication
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Gender
  • Medical students
  • Self-confidence
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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