Regardless of their equal performance to male peers, female medical students tend to be consistently less confident and more anxious, especially over issues concerning their competency, reports a new study.
The study also revealed that the female medical students also had a tendency to appear less confident to their patients.
The study's senior author Richard M. Frankel, Ph.D said: "We observed third-year medical students interacting with individuals simulating patients and gave the students a battery of tests measuring non-verbal sensitivity.
"Female medical students self reported less self confidence than the male medical students and were also observed by trained raters to be less confident.
"Despite objective test performance that is equal to or greater than their male classmates there was something about the way in which the female medical students were observed and experienced their communication with patients that made them less confident."
The revelation further shed light on the significant question that were women simply more willing than men to admit that they felt anxious, stressed or that they lack confidence in their abilities.
The professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a Regenstrief Institute research scientist further noted that though women now formed more than half of the applicants to medical schools in the US but the educationalists might not be aware of gender differences in their student population.
Dr. Frankel, a medical sociologist who studies both medical education and the doctor-patient relationship, noted: "Our finding of decreased confidence among female medical students is important because it makes it very clear that somewhere in the training of future physicians, the issue of confidence needs to be addressed.
"Accomplishing this may be as straightforward as increasing faculty sensitivity and changing some simple learned behavior, but we will need more research to fully understand this phenomenon and its implications for medical education."
The survey demonstrated that while there was a no consistent gender disparity in scholastic performance, yet female medical students underrated their capabilities while the males tended to overrate theirs.
The observational reports and analysis also confirmed that by the end of the medical school, male students had accomplished a greater level of identification with the role of doctor than female students with the same medical school experience.
Amusingly, it was female students only who reported to be thinking about confidence in their knowledge when asked to assess their identification with the role of a doctor.
The study was published in the September 2008 issue of 'Patient Education and Counseling'.