Gender-Based Differences Among Pharmacy Students Involved in Academically Dishonest Behavior

Eric J. Ip, PharmD; Jai Pal, MS; Shadi Doroudgar, PharmD; Monica K. Bidwal, PharmD; Bijal Shah-Manek, PhD, B.Pharm


Am J Pharm Educ. 2018;82(4) 

In This Article


Of the 560 students (192 male, 34%; 368 female, 66%) enrolled at four Northern California pharmacy school programs according to the American Association of the Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP), 360 completed the survey.[14] Thirty surveys were excluded: 15 were incomplete, 14 were completely blank, and one did not indicate the gender of the survey taker. This resulted in a final sample of 330 students (115 male, 35%; 215 female, 65%) for a response rate of 59%.

Table 1 describes male and female students' cheating history and knowledge of cheating incidents at their pharmacy school. When asked if they have ever cheated in pharmacy school, there was no difference between males and females (10% vs 13%, p=.57). Females tended to be more aware of cheating incidents at their pharmacy school than males (60% vs 49%, p=.07) however this difference was not statistically significant. While more males reported cheating in middle school than females (44% vs 33%, p=.05), no gender-based differences were noted in reported cheating during high school or undergraduate studies.

Male and female students admitted to participating in various forms of academically dishonest behavior (Table 2). Engaging in various academically dishonest behaviors did not differ based on gender. However, over a quarter of both male and female students either gave (32% male, 27% female) or received details (30% male, 25% female) regarding contents of an oral/practical examination or Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), over a third (35% male, 38% female) reported copying another student's coursework with permission, and almost half (49% male, 47% female) reported giving coursework to students in other professional years.

Table 3 depicts five hypothetical scenarios. Students were asked to evaluate these scenarios and indicate if they perceived the actions as cheating, if they have witnessed the behavior in pharmacy school, and/or if they participated in the behavior in pharmacy school. Males were less likely than females to perceive a male student who was an examination theft accomplice and distributed the examination to his classmates as a cheater (45% vs 77%, p<.001). However, females were more likely to witness a student directly copying another student's calculations assignment (32% vs 19%, p=.02). No other sex-based differences were found regarding perception or participation in academically dishonest behaviors.