Where are the males? Gender differences in undergraduates' interest in and perceptions of the genetic counseling profession

Jeffrey W. Kopesky, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Fengqin Lian, Bonnie S. LeRoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic counseling is a female-dominated field, with women comprising about 95% of the profession (Smith et al. 2009). Greater patient choice and satisfaction may be achieved by increasing the number of male counselors, but empirical evidence about the reasons for this gender imbalance is limited. In this study 190 undergraduates (110 females, 79 males, 1 unknown) in upper division bioscience courses completed a survey assessing their knowledge and perceptions of and interest in genetic counseling as a career. There were only two significant gender differences. Females indicated significantly greater interest than males in pursuing a genetic counseling career, and they rated interpersonal skills as more integral to genetic counseling than males. Multiple regression analyses of knowledge and perceptions as possible predictors of male and female interest in pursuing a genetic counseling career yielded no significant predictors of male interest. For females, there were four significant predictors: estimated salary, career characteristics, perceptions of genetic counseling as interpersonally focused, and whether they had already chosen a career. Implications for recruiting males to the profession, and research recommendations are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-354
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

Keywords

  • Genetic counseling
  • Genetic counselor diversity
  • Genetic counselor gender diversity
  • Perceptions of genetic counseling career
  • Student recruitment

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