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April 26, 1995

Sex and Gender Bias in Illustrations in Anatomy and Physical Diagnosis Texts

Author Affiliations

Philadelphia Geriatric Center Philadelphia, Pa

JAMA. 1995;273(16):1255-1256. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03520400025025

To the Editor.  —Ms Mendelsohn and her colleagues1 made several interesting observations in their article. They reported an overrepresentation of males in nonreproductive anatomy illustrations and expressed legitimate concern that the image of the male body is being presented as the "standard model" for medical education.This article reminded me of my experience as a first-year medical student in 1972.I certainly would not accuse our recommended anatomy text2 of underrepresenting females. I was inspired to dust off my textbook and count photographs. There are 52 photographs that could be determined to be either male or female. In contrast to the findings in the study by Mendelsohn et al, 40 (77%) were of women, whereas only 12 (23%) were of men. Unfortunately, 63% of the photographs of women were pornographic poses of a quality that one might see in Playboy magazine. These photographs included nude women posed with beach

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