The Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. Questions regarding these topics during a residency interview are therefore prohibited.
A questionnaire was sent to all female orthopaedic surgeons who had an e-mail address in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons directory. Participants were asked to describe what, if any, inappropriate questions they were asked during interviews.
Four hundred eighty-eight of 997 invited female orthopaedic surgeons completed the questionnaire (48.9%). Their residency interviews took place from 1971 to 2015. Overall, 61.7% of participants were asked an inappropriate question during an interview. This proportion neither increased nor decreased from 1971 to 2015 (P = 0.315). The most common themes of questions included “raising children during residency” (37.9%), “marital status” (32.4%), and “pregnancy during residency” (29.7%). Of those who were asked an inappropriate question, only 1.4% reported the inappropriate question to authorities.
The present study suggests that over half of female applicants have been asked inappropriate questions at orthopaedic surgery residency interviews, and that there has been no improvement in that percentage over nearly five decades. It is the responsibility those interviewing to be aware of this issue and to be in compliance with national guidelines.
Level of Evidence: