Summer Reading – Week 7


This week I read:

McIntosh (1989): White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Shope, TC, JG Frohna, and AZ Frohna. “Using the Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the teaching of leadership skills.”Medical Education, vol. 34, no. 11, Blackwell Science Ltd, Oxford UK, 2000..doi:10.1046/j.1365-2923.2000.0784l.x.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack


As a white person,
I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

-Peggy McIntosh

This article challenges the view of racism. To be accurate, it challenges the view of most, if not all isms. The importance of this article is not in what McIntosh was taught about racism, acts of meanness. The importance lies in what she was not taught, the concept and realness of privilege. McIntosh likens privilege unto a knapsack that is filled with all sorts of goodies, like maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.

Imagine for a moment that all white people were given a Pro account that included tools, provisions, and treasure that help lessen the difficulty of the challenges. You are unaware that all other players receive a standard account. The game is the same, but reaching each level is much more difficult without the tools and provisions. The other players must figure out a way master each level without any special tools.

Now imagine that you had been given a Pro account at birth and had been playing the game for many years with great success. You were unaware that your account was different from any other’s account, but you had noticed that other players struggled to finish a level that you were able to complete with great ease. Playing the game with all the tools is the norm for you. Then one day you are asked to give up all of your tools in order to provide an even playing field for everyone. How would you respond? Would you have a fit of rage? Would you resist? Or would you see the unfairness and willingly hand over your tools? Would you see that you were given an unfair advantage?

How would you feel if you had been given a standard account and your performance was compared to the performance of those who had Pro accounts? What would it feel like to see your friends and neighbors receive praise and honors for their accomplishments while you constantly struggled despite your efforts?

Reading this article made me think of racism in a different way. The impact was profound.

Using the Myers‐Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) in the Teaching of Leadership Skills

Physicians are expected to be leaders, but leadership skills are rarely taught during residency training. Leadership is a core competency for practice in a managed care environment. It is important that leadership skills be included in the curriculum.

A leadership course was designed to introduce managed care concepts to pediatric residents. Residents participated in a four-hour session each week for four consecutive weeks to complete a “variety of didactic and experiential activities.”

The authors wrote an original vignette related to issues encountered in residency for each pair of personality dimensions as defined by the inventory. Participant responses were used to illustrate the diversity of possible reactions.

Residents were provided with a description of their personality type and given time to reflect on how their type may affect their leadership style and ability. Afterward, they discussed leadership and teamwork and focused on the opportunities and challenges one can encounter when working with different personality types. They each gave examples of their own opportunities as leaders and ways to be most effective in future leadership roles.

The leadership course was a success. Shope, et al. plan to assess their graduates to see “how their personality-type insights have modified their leadership behaviors.” Personality inventories have the potential to increase the residents’ self-awareness and help them prepare for future leadership roles.





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