• Cultivate the mastery of written, verbal, and nonverbal exchanges in non-biased ways.
  • Recognize that language and word choice shape how one perceives the world and how the world sees you.  
  • Recognize the importance of communication in defining how we feel about ourselves and how we present who we are.
  • Make conscious decisions about the words you use to communicate


  1. Identify communication practices that introduce bias and develop strategies to counter biased communication.
  2. Reflect on your body language and nonverbal communication habits and create a mechanism to solicit feedback.
  3. Recognize biased language and identify unbiased substitute words or phrases that can be easily put into habitual use.
  4. Develop and practice methods for making those with whom you communicate aware of biased thoughts, phrases or word choices.
  5. Become comfortable with silence in communication and avoid qualifiers that weaken the message.
  6. Embrace that radical candor and guidance are essential to effective leader communication.
  7. Develop strategies for having difficult conversations.
  8. Acquire skills to present your best self.
  9. Understand how communication style affects the care of our patients.

Module Content


Why are female doctors introduced by first name while men are called ‘Doctor’?

Objective: 1
Janice Neumann
5 minutes

Male introducers are less likely to introduce female speakers as "Dr." before Grand Rounds. This article provides the data demonstrating this bias and proposes reasons why this occurs and potential solutions.

Speaking While Female

Objective: 1
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
5 minutes

This NYT article describes the "double bind" women face when they speak up at work. When men speak at work their competence, performance evaluations, and perceived helpfulness are likely to improve, but this is not so for women. Women are more likely to be interrupted and their opinions are more likely to be discounted. This is harmful to organizations, because this culture deprives organizations of valuable ideas. To counter this, the article proposes that organizations should consider anonymous presentation and selection of ideas, institute a "no interruption rule," and hire more female leaders.

A Little Help from My Friend, essay in Perspectives Women in Emergency Medicine

Objective: 1
5 minutes

Discussion of striking the right tone, communication style in medicine, discusses issues of being perceived as too harsh.

Everyday Misogyny: 122 Subtly Sexist Words and What to Do About Them

Objective: 1
15 minutes

This article includes a list of 122 commonly used, subtly sexist words used to describe women. It proposes strategies for recognizing these words and developing mindful word choice.

Your Body Language May Shape Who You Are

Objective: 2
Amy Cuddy
21 minutes

Body language affects how others see us, but it also changes how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that "power posing" — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don't feel confident — can boost confidence, and has an impact on our chances for success.

Be Heard The First Time

Objective: 2
Susan MIller
196 pages

This book focuses on "diagnosing" and treating problematic intonation, tone, and other characteristics of one's voice that may be implicitly undermining one's messages. Recommendations for this book include book club reading, or as part of a pre- and post-reading assessment video exercise on one's speech in public presentation settings.

Pantene 'Sorry, Not Sorry' Commercial

Objective: 3
1 minutes

This brief advertisement is a catchy demonstration of women inappropriately using the word "sorry", followed by stronger alternatives.

Clear and effective communication

Objective: 3
Nell Minnow
2 minutes

This article discusses communication challenges for women at work and practical solutions.

How Women Undermine Themselves with Words

Objective: 3
Interview with Tara Mohr
5 minutes

Q&A interview in which self-diminishing communication habits women use to soften communication are examined. These commonly used phrases can be eliminated or replaced with communication rooted in warmth and confidence in a positive and proactive way. Suggestions are given.

Stop Saying "I Feel Like"

Objective: 3
Molly Worthen
10 minutes

This NYT article argues that using the increasing popular phrase, "I feel like," deflects conflict, discourages healthy argument, and muddies the waters between evidence and internal sentiments. Instead, the article recommends using phrases such as, "I think" or "I would argue that...," etc. to take responsibility, rationally argue, and give meaning to your words.

Afraid of being "witchy with a 'b'": a qualitative study of how gender influences residents' experiences leading cardiopulmonary resuscitation

Objective: 3
Kolehmainen C et al
15 minutes

This is the article discussed in the Feminem podcast, "Do-we-all-have-to-be-witches-with-a-b." It discusses how ideal code leadership, as percieved by residents, involves stereotypical male behaviors and authoritative presence. Female residents try to integrate the competing identities of code leader and female gender. The article suggests that residency education programs should train residents about how female gender stereotypes may conflict with leadership traits required to enact code leadership.

Do We All Have to Be Witches...With a B

Objective: 3
Dara Kass, Jenny Beck-Esmay and Shannon McNamara
26 minutes

This podcast discusses the article, "Afraid of being "witchy with a 'b'": a qualitative study of how gender influences residents' experiences leading cardiopulmonary resuscitation."

Dear Madam President

Objective: 3
Jennifer Palmieri
193 pages

Regardless of your political inclinations, this book, written by Hillary Clinton's communication director during her 2016 presidential campaign, discusses the double bind women often find themselves in: too firm (we're harsh, abrasive) or too soft (we're weak).

So They Think You're a Nurse

Objective: 4
Sarah Shafer
5 minutes

A common issue all female physicians deal with, this article normalizes being mistaken for a nurse and provides tangible and easy ways to gracefully deal with in it the ED.

How We Describe Male and Female Job Applicants Differently

Objective: 4
Mikki Hebl, Christine L. Nittrouer, Abigail R. Corrington, Juan M. Madera
7 minutes

Words and metrics to evaluate women differ from those used to evaluate men – and this reinforces gender stereotypes and stalls women’s advancement. The article urges you to look at applications using a new viewpoint that looks through the "nice" words and doubt raisers used to describe women. Additionally, this article encourages that writers be vigilant about shortcoming women through poorly chosen descriptors.

What Works for Women at Work

Objective: 4
Lean In
30 minutes

This is a series of 5 videos 2-8 minutes long that describe in detail challenges of women at work. While not specific to medicine, included are somekeys to communication and proposed solutions.

Sorry, Not Sorry–Why Women Need To Stop Apologizing For Everything

Objective: 5
Gwen Moran
4 minutes

"Sorry" is a verbal crutch often misused by women who strive to maintain relationships, but comes at the cost of losing respect. This article recommends alternatives and tangible methods to avoid the damaging use of the word.

Radical Candor — The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss

Objective: 6
First Round Review
30 minutes

Radical candor is a communication strategy that focuses on providing frank feedback from a caring position. This presentation highlights the benefits of embracing a culture of direct, constructive guidance and provides tools to improve open feedback in the workplace.

The Surprising Secret to Being a Great Boss.

Objective: 6
Kim Scott
16 minutes

Ted Talk by Kim Scott, who has coined the term Radical Candor - as well as ruinous empathy, obnoxious aggression, and manipulative insincerity - to describe the need for open and honest feedback. The principles aren't new, but the application to women in medicine is clear.

Gender and Radical Candor

Objective: 6
Kim Scott
8 minutes

A blog post by Kim Scott, who coined Radical Candor, that looks specifically at the gender issues around frank and honest communication in the workplace. Combined with her Ted Talk, this is a great way to think about how this happens in medicine every day.

How To Win Friends and Influence People

Objective: 7
Dale Carnegie
285 pages

A classic book on communication, this is a must read.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most

Objective: 7
Douglass Stone
352 pages

"This book provides a concrete approach to tackling difficult conversations. Highlighting effective communication strategies, this book demonstrates how to avoid defensiveness, improve listening skills, and remain calm during disagreements."

What Not To Wear At Work

Objective: 8
Kristi Hedges
2 minutes

Suggestions on how to dress professionally.

The Well Spoken Woman: Your Guide to Looking and Sounding Your Best

Objective: 8
Christine K. Jahnke
357 pages

A top advisor to politicians and CEO's alike, this author provides examples of great female orrators, dissecting what made them effective speakers, and gives exercises and suggestions on how to speak with confience and earn respect.

Patients Prefer an Active Role in Medical Decisions When the Provider is Female? Just Go with It.

Objective: 9
Erika Newton
10 minutes

Female physicians spend more time talking with patients and more effectively use shared decision making. This article focuses on what women do well.

Talking Points and Discussion Questions

  1. Demonstrate to the group an example of how you might respond to someone who uses a subtly sexist word in conversation.

  2. Demonstrate to the group an example of body language that you want to change, and then demonstrate what you will do instead.

  3. Demonstrate to the group an example of biased language that you have used, and how you will change it.

  4. Practice silence in communication by looking at the person next to you in the eye for 30 silent seconds. Describe how it felt.

  5. Describe a time when you had a difficult conversation. What made it difficult in your mind? Would you change anything about what you said? How?

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