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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
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.
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,