Sheehan & Associates, P.L.C.

Harassment still common in academic medicine industry

The world of academic medicine is fueled by highly educated individuals, many of whom are doctors. Historically, the industry featured a mostly male student and eventual employee makeup, though today females account for a much larger percent of individuals in the field. In a National Institutes of Health survey on the subject of sexual harassment, participants were all K08 or K23 grant recipients and approximately 46 percent were women.

Researchers expected to see substantially less respondents experiencing sexual harassment than similar studies in 1995 indicated. One reason for the expected reduction is that the field has many more women today than it did two decades ago. One researcher noted that it is common for sexual harassment to be more prevalent in workplaces where a gender imbalance is present.

In 1995, approximately 40 percent of women responding to a similar survey said they'd experienced sexual harassment. In 2009, around 30 percent said they had dealt with unwanted attention, advances or sexual comments. As many as 70 percent said they believed there were still gender biases in the academic medicine workplace.

The survey results illustrate a number of important points about sexual harassment. Many of the women responding to these surveys were physicians, and all were highly educated medical research professionals. Even given their credentials, they were still experiencing harassment. Harassment can happen in any field and to any person.

Another important finding from this research is that women felt their career paths were negatively impacted by harassment. Even with education and experience behind them, some women felt harassment was winning out against them.

No matter what your career is, what level you are in a job or what your education or credentials are, you don't have to give in to harassment. If you believe you are dealing with such issues, consider speaking to a legal professional to understand your rights and what options you have for action.

Source: Fox News, "Nearly a third of women in academic medicine experience sexual harassment," Reuters, accessed May 24, 2016

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