• Sexual Harassment in the Medical Profession
  • March 13, 2018
  • Recent reports have shown us that the specter of sexual harassment remains alive and well in many areas of our lives. Some may have believed that the days of overt sexual harassment were behind us. Victims who had been living with that burden are now coming forward. They describe having experienced overt sexual harassment, sometimes repeatedly, which was seemingly condoned or otherwise allowed to continue. Accounts of harassment have been revealed in the fields of entertainment, technology, and politics.

    Women have made significant strides in the medical field. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges in 2016, more than half of those enrolled in medical schools were women. This is a significant increase since the 1990s, when enrollment was around 40 percent. However, 71 percent of women physicians still dominate fields such as pediatrics, and 82 percent work in obstetrics and gynecology. In contrast, the more lucrative field of neurosurgery remains dominated by men with only 17.3 percent being female residents.

    Female Medical Professionals Experience Sexual Harassment at Work
    One researcher was intrigued by the question of whether sexual harassment occurs in medical schools and practices. In 2014, Reshma Jagsi, a professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, conducted a survey on sexual harassment and gender bias in academic medicine. One thousand professionals who received advanced career development awards from the National Institutes of Health were surveyed. Among them, 46 percent were women with the average age of 43 years.

    When questioned about whether they perceived or personally experienced gender bias in their work, a significant difference in responses ran along gender lines. Seventy percent of female respondents perceived or personally experienced gender bias, while 31.6 percent of men had perceived or personally experienced gender bias. There were 150 women who reported experiencing harassment with more than 41 percent experiencing unwanted sexual advances.

    Reporting Sexual Harassment in the Medical Field
    Since the study was published in 2016, Dr. Jagsi received many messages from female physicians recounting experiences with male colleagues. Yet, not one of the physicians reported the experience to their institution. Dr. Jagsi believes that female physicians may be more reluctant to report harassment than others. One reason may be an unwillingness to risk their job after having committed years of study before being qualified to practice. Another reason may be that the profession is largely hierarchical in leadership roles. Challenging that hierarchy might seem too difficult and unlikely to succeed.

    Dr. Jagsi believes a change might be happening in the medical community, spurred on by the reckoning happening elsewhere. Overt harassment is now a popular subject when she is invited to speak, which is a change from other topics such as unconscious bias and challenges balancing work and family.

    Bucks County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Victims of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
    The impact of sexual harassment can be significant and long lasting, resulting in lost professional opportunities, as well as undermining a person’s self-worth and confidence. If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, contact one of our Bucks County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Call us today at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients from the surrounding areas.