Attitudes toward the use of gender-inclusive language among residency trainees. The McMaster Residency Training Program Directors.
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OBJECTIVE: To explore postgraduate medical trainees' attitudes toward the use of gender-inclusive language. DESIGN: Self-administered questionnaire. SETTING: Seven residency training programs at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont., from July 1993 to June 1994. PARTICIPANTS: Of 225 residents in the programs, 186 responded to the survey, for a response rate of 82.7%. Men and women were equally represented among the respondents. OUTCOME MEASURES: Categorization of attitudes about the use of language as gender-inclusive or gender-exclusive; characteristics predicting a gender-inclusive attitude. RESULTS: Factor analysis and Cronbach's alpha (0.90) supported the existence of a construct related to attitudes about language use, the poles of which were categorized as gender-inclusive and gender-exclusive. The authors classified residents with respect to their attitudes to language use from their responses to the questionnaire. In univariate analyses, sex, residency program and country of graduation significantly predicted a gender-inclusive attitude (p < 0.01). Only the first 2 variables were significant in a multivariate model; residency program explained 18% of the variance and sex 3%. Residents in obstetrics and gynecology and psychiatry had the most gender-inclusive attitudes, whereas residents in surgery and anesthesia had the most gender-exclusive attitudes. CONCLUSIONS: Residents' values are reflected in the language they choose to use. Language use may provide an index of underlying attitudes that may create hostile environments for female trainees.
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