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All Other Things Being Equal

Exploring Racial and Gender Disparities in Medical School Honor Society Induction

Wijesekera, Thilan P., MD; Kim, Margeum, MS; Moore, Edward Z., PhD; Sorenson, Olav, PhD; Ross, David A., MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002463
Research Reports

Purpose A large body of literature has demonstrated racial and gender disparities in the physician workforce, but limited data are available regarding the potential origins of these disparities. To that end, the authors evaluated the effects of race and gender on Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society (AOA) and Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) induction.

Method In this retrospective cohort study, the authors examined data from 11,781 Electronic Residency Application Service applications from 133 U.S. MD-granting medical schools to 12 residency programs in the 2014–2015 application cycle and to all 15 residency programs in the 2015–2016 cycle at Yale-New Haven Hospital. They estimated the odds of induction into AOA and GHHS using logistic regression models, adjusting for Step 1 score, research publications, citizenship status, training interruptions, and year of application. They used gender- and race-matched samples to account for differences in clerkship grades and to test for bias.

Results Women were more likely than men to be inducted into GHHS (odds ratio 1.84, P < .001) but did not differ in their likelihood of being inducted into AOA. Black medical students were less likely to be inducted into AOA (odds ratio 0.37, P < .05) but not into GHHS.

Conclusions These findings demonstrate significant differences between groups in AOA and GHHS induction. Given the importance of honor society induction in residency applications and beyond, these differences must be explored further.

T.P. Wijesekera is instructor, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

M. Kim is a doctoral student, Yale School of Management, New Haven, Connecticut.

E.Z. Moore is associate professor, Department of Engineering, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, Connecticut.

O. Sorenson is professor, Yale School of Management, New Haven, Connecticut.

D.A. Ross is associate professor, Department of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut.

Funding/Support: This work was supported by Rosemarie Fisher, MD, associate dean of graduate medical education at the Yale School of Medicine and designated institutional official for Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Other disclosures: Edward Z. Moore and David A. Ross are cofounders of Scutmonkey Consulting, LLC.

Ethical approval: This project (ID: 2000021198) was reviewed and approved by the Yale Human Investigations Committee; the most recent modifications were made on October 12, 2017.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at

Correspondence should be addressed to Thilan P. Wijesekera, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, 367 Cedar St., Harkness Hall A, Room 306A, New Haven, CT 06510; telephone: (203) 737-7478; e-mail:; Twitter: @thilanMD.

© 2019 by the Association of American Medical Colleges