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Implicit bias, women surgeons and institutional solutions: commentary
  1. Samantha Brennan
  1. Philosophy, University of Guelph College of Arts, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Samantha Brennan, University of Guelph College of Arts, Guelph, N1G 2W1, Canada; samantha.brennan{at}

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This paper argues that a major contribution to women’s under-representation and the gender pay gap in surgery is the interaction and aggregation of many small wrongs, or as they have come to be called in the literature, microinequities. Further, the paper argues that existing strategies do not adequately address the problems faced by women surgeons and cannot do so without an understanding of those wrongs as microinequities. Insights from the literature on ethics and microinequities are thought to be able to inform new strategies.1

The study identifies four different kinds of gender bias: workplace discrimination, epistemic injustice, stereotyped roles and objectification. The different kinds of gender bias interact with one another and add up in ways that pose serious setbacks to the careers of women surgeons. In addition to being small wrongs, microinequities share other features. They are cumulative; they interact with one other; they are often invisible; and they are implicit or unintended.

My comments are going to focus on the response to microinequities, …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • See “The Moral Status of Micro-Inequities: In Favour of Institutional Solutions,” Implicit Bias and Philosophy, Volume 2: Moral Responsibility, Structural Injustice, and Ethics, Michael Brownstein and Jennifer Saul, Oxford 2016.

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