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Systematic Review

The prevalence and impact of gender bias and sexual discrimination in orthopaedics, and mitigating strategies

a systematic review

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Gender bias and sexual discrimination (GBSD) have been widely recognized across a range of fields and are now part of the wider social consciousness. Such conduct can occur in the medical workplace, with detrimental effects on recipients. The aim of this review was to identify the prevalence and impact of GBSD in orthopaedic surgery, and to investigate interventions countering such behaviours.


A systematic review was conducted by searching Medline, EMCARE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library Database in April 2020, and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines to which we adhered. Original research papers pertaining to the prevalence and impact of GBSD, or mitigating strategies, within orthopaedics were included for review.


Of 570 papers, 27 were eligible for inclusion. These were published between 1998 and 2020. A narrative review was performed in light of the significant heterogeneity displayed by the eligible studies. A total of 13 papers discussed the prevalence of GBSD, while 13 related to the impact of these behaviours, and six discussed mitigating strategies. GBSD was found to be common in the orthopaedic workplace, with all sources showing women to be the subjects. The impact of this includes poor workforce representation, lower salaries, and less career success, including in academia, for women in orthopaedics. Mitigating strategies in the literature are focused on providing female role models, mentors, and educational interventions.


GBSD is common in orthopaedic surgery, with a substantial impact on sufferers. A small number of mitigating strategies have been tested but these are limited in their scope. As such, the orthopaedic community is obliged to participate in more thoughtful and proactive strategies that mitigate against GBSD, by improving female recruitment and retention within the specialty.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(11):1446–1456.

Correspondence should be sent to Usman A. Halim. E-mail:

U. A. Halim and A. Elbayouk are joint first authors.

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