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Gender and Supportive Co-Worker Relations in the Medical Profession


  • Jean E. Wallace

Address for correspondence: Jean E. Wallace, Department of Sociology, The University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary AB, Canada T2N 1N4; e-mail:


Women's growing numerical representation in the professions has not necessarily translated into women being truly integrated in these occupations. Questionnaire data are used to examine whether female physicians are socially integrated in the male-dominated profession of medicine in terms of the support they receive from their medical colleagues compared to male physicians. The literature on tokenism and homophily suggests that women in male-dominated professions receive less support than their male colleagues, whereas the social support literature predicts that women typically receive more emotional support than men but less informational and instrumental support. The results of this study shed light on the complex and multi-layered ways in which gender is relevant to our understanding of the extent to which co-workers provide empathy, information and assistance to one another.