To The Editor:
I am writing in regard to “Initial Review of Electronic Residency Application Service Charts by Orthopaedic Residency Faculty Members. Does Applicant Gender Matter?” (83-A: 65-70, Jan. 2001), by Scherl et al. The authors performed a randomized, prospective evaluation of chart reviews and concluded that there is no bias against women applicants in this portion of the process. They are to be commended for an effort to analyze possible factors in the current paucity of women in the field of orthopaedic surgery.
As pointed out by the authors, the chart-review phase primarily relies on objective information, which, although easier to study, is probably the least susceptible to bias. Additionally, although attempts were made to keep the reviewers blinded with regard to the goals of the study, performance of the chart reviews in the context of a study, with the reviewers knowing that their evaluations would be scrutinized, may have introduced bias. Also, there are many inherently more subjective steps in evaluation that may have an impact on an applicant’s success. These include the writing of the initial recommendation letters by orthopaedic mentors and the evaluation at the time of interview. Obviously, these factors are difficult, if not impossible, to study.
Unfortunately, the failure to recruit women into orthopaedic surgery continues. Although we are recruiting an increasing percentage of women into our programs, women remain one-seventh as likely as men to match into an orthopaedic program1, a percentage that has not changed significantly over the past twenty years. Given …
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