Home > Abstract Details > Agentic & Communal Language in Letters of Recommendation for OB/GYN Fellowship Applications

« Back to Search

Agentic & Communal Language in Letters of Recommendation for OB/GYN Fellowship Applications

Purpose: To identify differences in the use of agentic and communal language in letters of recommendation (LOR) for OB/GYN fellowship applicants.


Background: LORs are an important part of a fellowship application. Gender differences in agentic and communal language have been described in several medical specialties, which may contribute to gender inequality in the application process.


Methods: Applications to Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM), Reproductive Endocrinology (REI), Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), and Gynecologic Oncology (GO) fellowship programs at a single academic institution in 2020 were collected and LORs de-identified. Letters were analyzed for percentage of agentic and communal language using the Linguistics Inquiry Word Count software. Marginal models using generalized estimating equations were fit to determine if applicant and writer gender and type of fellowship were associated with letter language.


Results: 328 applications with 1224 LORs were analyzed (Male 21.3%, Female 78.7%). On average, agentic language was more common (1.27% vs 0.74%) across subspecialties. There was no difference in agentic or communal terms based on applicant(p=0.95) or letter writer(p=0.45) gender. No association was found in gender concordant vs discordant writer-applicant dyads(p=0.84). GO and FPMRS letters used more agentic language, relative to communal, than MFM and REI letters(0.6% vs 0.47%, p=0.02).


Discussions: Agentic and communal language use in fellowship LORs was similar in male and female applicants, though rates remain low. Agentic terms, relative to communal, are more commonly encountered in surgical subspecialty applications. Further research is ongoing to determine the impact of agentic language in fellowship match rates across gender and race.

Topics: CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting, 2022, Resident, Residency Director, Residency Coordinator, Professionalism, Systems-Based Practice & Improvement, Interpersonal & Communication Skills, GME, CME, Assessment, Advocacy, Gynecologic Oncology, Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility, Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, Maternal-Fetal Medicine,

General Information

Resident,Residency Director,Residency Coordinator,
Professionalism,Systems-Based Practice & Improvement,Interpersonal & Communication Skills,
Clinical Focus
Gynecologic Oncology,Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility,Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery,Maternal-Fetal Medicine,

Author Information

Tressa Ellett, MS, School of Medicine; Duke University, Durham, North Carolina; Nicole Zanolli, BS; Meghan Price, BS; Jeremy Weber, MS; Alaattin Erkalani, PhD; Brittany Davidson, MD

Additional Materials

Related Abstracts

Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics

2130 Priest Bridge Drive, Suite 7, Crofton, MD 21114


APGO logo

Follow Us

Association of Professors of
Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO)