Table 3

Role factors

DescriptionRepresentative quotes
Colleague expectations
 Stereotyped as peacemakers‘if there’s an angry patient they’ll want the girl to talk to them, and you have to do a lot more kind of—the talky-talky or the touchy-feely kind of stuff.’ (P33)
 Expected to be friendly‘a male registrar can just walk in and ask for what he wants, and that’s fine. A female registrar, if you do that, you’ll get nowhere.[…]I invest a lot of my time, all the time, when I’m at work, investing in relationships with staff, and making sure I know people’s names, and asking them about their families’ (P38)
 Burden of domestic tasks and paperwork‘They would literally never, ever call the male out of theatre, because obviously he was too important. He was needed! Just literally all of the paperwork dross. Like, if you say you had twenty inpatients and all of them needed some form of paperwork going, you could both be sitting at the desk and they would bring it all to you and not the other person’ (P6)
Patient expectations
 Stereotyped as empathetic‘Men who’d come in and they’re quite open to cry about the recent loss of their partner, or their dog, or something, how important it is, because they know I’m probably likely to understand—in their mind, as part of the stereotype.’ (P2)
 Expectations about communication style‘I can’t be as offhand as some of my male colleagues and just respond to something in a very male way, because patients are not going to respond to that. Like, some of my patients come and see me because they identify that I’m a female physician and they actually are choosing that’ (P44)
 Team player‘I tell people this now, that an experienced, knowledgeable nurse is really helpful, and if you can get that person to help you at the start …’ (P24)
 Patient centred‘I think women bring to surgery a whole different aspect that men never can in the whole communication, empathy—all of those things. And I want to maintain that as much as I possibly can’ (P46)
 Care opposed to authority‘I think people find it easier to talk to us, and they don’t feel intimidated, so the barrier is definitely down from that point of view. But I think feeling authoritative and being able to say things with a position of authority is harder as a female, I’m sure.’ (P29)