The Gendered Work/Role of Program Directors in International Graduate Medical Education

Debalina Dutta, Halah Ibrahim, Joseph Cofrancesco, Sophia Archuleta, Dora J. Stadler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Healthcare organizations offer numerous clinical and academic leadership pathways for physicians, among which the position of program director (PD) is considered to be a prominent educational leadership role. As PDs are instrumental in the recruitment and training of the next generations of physicians, PD gender distribution can affect the present and future of a medical specialty. This study offers a dialectical perspective in understanding how international PDs negotiate gendered understanding of their work/role by using the framework of Relational Dialectics Theory 2.0. Thirty-three interviews of PDs from Qatar, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates were conducted and, using contrapuntal analysis, the competing discourses of meanings of gender in the PD work/role were examined. Competing discourses where structural, cultural, and professional meanings of gender were interrogated revealed inherent multiple meanings of how gender is understood in PD work/roles. In making sense of these meanings of gender, PDs express dilemmas of traditional gender binaries of masculine/feminine work/role meanings to explain the term in different ways in their everyday organizational and cultural struggles. The findings have implications for PD recruitment and retention in teaching hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)154-164
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • gender;
  • graduate medical education
  • program director;
  • relational dialectics theory 2.0;

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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