The effect of gender on the Canadian ophthalmology residency match
Authors: Neetin Prabhu, Ashlyn Pinto, Jason Noble, Rishi Gupta, Anuradha Mishra.
Author Disclosure Block: N. Prabhu: None. A. Pinto: None. J. Noble: None. R. Gupta: None. A. Mishra: None.
Purpose: There has been a steady rise in the number of females graduating from Canadian Medical schools over the past 80 years. However, despite reaching gender parity in graduation rates, disparities in residency representation continue to persist in ophthalmology. We sought to evaluate if applicant gender influenced success of matching to ophthalmology residency in the Canadian Residency Matching Service (CaRMS) program.
Study Design: CaRMS ophthalmology match data was retrospectively reviewed from the years 2013 to 2020.
Methods: Study data was requested from CaRMS via their online request platform. Total and ophthalmology specific applicant number, gender, and first choice applications rates by gender were requested from the CaRMS applicant database. Linear regression and Poisson regression analyses was used to evaluate application rates and outcomes of females and males applying to ophthalmology between the years 2013 to 2020.
Results: Since 2013, the number of first choice applicants applying to ophthalmology ranged between 97 to 131. The total number of first choice applicants did not significantly change over the years, with both females and males separately also showing no significant change (p > 0.40). However, there were on average 28% more total male applicants per year to ophthalmology (p < 0.001). Using the Poisson model, we found neither the ratio of male to female applicants, nor the number of females or number of males that matched to ophthalmology significantly changed over the examined years (e0.329 = 1.39 and p > 0.10). The odds ratio for females compared to males matching to ophthalmology both in total and as first rank was non-significant with the year coefficient being -0.1 (p = 0.13) and -0.1 (p = 0.15), respectively.
Conclusions: Our analyses found that the odds of matching to ophthalmology residency programs was not influenced by gender and that male medical students applied to ophthalmology at higher rates than their female counterparts. As females continue to represent a smaller percentage of applicants to ophthalmology residency, an emphasis on identifying the barriers and gaps attracting female medical students to pursue a career in ophthalmology should be investigated. Having fewer numbers of potential female mentors may be one contributing factor, as data has shown that females who have pursued surgical specialties report mentor-mentee relationships as a major influence of their career path. If future research shows this to be an important factor for ophthalmology specifically, enhancing formal mentor relationships may help bridge this gap.