Sexual harassment is rampant even in the most respected fields, according to a study published on May 17 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study finds that 30 percent of female doctors have experienced sexual harassment in their profession.

On the other hand, four percent of male physicians claimed they have experienced sexual harassment. Overall, the study urges the need for awareness of one’s unconscious gender bias and tendency to behave appropriately.

The research team assessed 1,066 male and female doctors, aged 43 years on the average. These participants were asked about their experiences of sexual harassment, gender bias, and gender advantage.

sexual harassment

Doctor treating a child. Credit: Pixabay/skeeze

The results also reveal that 70 percent of women, unlike 22 percent of men, perceive bias based on their gender. Sixty-six percent of women experienced gender bias, whereas only 10 percent of men experienced the same thing.

“The perception among many of us is that this type of behaviour is a thing of the past,” adds study author Reshma Jagsi. “So it’s sobering to see quite how many relatively young women in this sample reported experiences with harassment and discrimination.”

According to the Jagsi, an associate professor as well as the deputy chair of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School, the findings may surprise some but these prove that we still have a long way to go before reaching complete gender equality. The research team encourages women who go through this to report these incidents instead of keeping it to themselves.

“We need to recognise the degree to which sexual harassment and gender inequality continue to be an issue in academic medicine,” Jagsi says. “Women who experience these types of harassment may be less likely to report these incidents if they feel they are unique and aberrational. Our data shows this is not an unusual situation and reflects a larger societal problem.”