Scientific article

Towards equitable learning environments for medical education : bias and the intersection of social identities

Published inMedical education, vol. 56, no. 1, p. 82-90
Publication date2022-01
First online date2021-08-24

Context: Medical educators are increasingly paying attention to how bias creates inequities that affect learners across the medical education continuum. Such bias arises from learners' social identities. However, studies examining bias and social identities in medical education tend to focus on one identity at a time, even though multiple identities often interact to shape individuals' experiences.

Methods: This article examines prior studies on bias and social identity in medical education, focusing on three social identities that commonly elicit bias: race, gender and profession. By applying the lens of intersectionality, we aimed to generate new insights into intergroup relations and identify strategies that may be employed to mitigate bias and inequities across all social identities.

Results: Although different social identities can be more or less salient at different stages of medical training, they intersect and impact learners' experiences. Bias towards racial and gender identities affect learners' ability to reach different stages of medical education and influence the specialties they train in. Bias also makes it difficult for learners to develop their professional identities as they are not perceived as legitimate members of their professional groups, which influences interprofessional relations. To mitigate bias across all identities, three main sets of strategies can be adopted. These strategies include equipping individuals with skills to reflect upon their own and others' social identities; fostering in-group cohesion in ways that recognise intersecting social identities and challenges stereotypes through mentorship; and addressing intergroup boundaries through promotion of allyship, team reflexivity and conflict management.

Conclusions: Examining how different social identities intersect and lead to bias and inequities in medical education provides insights into ways to address these problems. This article proposes a vision for how existing strategies to mitigate bias towards different social identities may be combined to embrace intersectionality and develop equitable learning environments for all.

  • Education, Medical
  • Humans
  • Intersectional Framework
  • Learning
  • Social Cohesion
  • Social Identification
Citation (ISO format)
BOCHATAY, Naike et al. Towards equitable learning environments for medical education : bias and the intersection of social identities. In: Medical education, 2022, vol. 56, n° 1, p. 82–90. doi: 10.1111/medu.14602
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0308-0110

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