Don’t call me ‘honey': Sexual harassment persists for female doctors

One family practitioner had the father of a young patient spit on her and tell her he didn’t think she knew what she was talking about because she was a woman. A young Pennsylvania doctor says older male doctors at the hospital where she works often call her “honey” and “sweetheart.”

Turns out female doctors haven’t come such a long way: many still face sexual harassment from patients and colleagues, according to a report in Medical Economics.

While there are more women physicians in the U.S. than ever before, that hasn’t stopped sexist and misogynist behavior from patients and fellow doctors, according to the report.

Perhaps it should not come as a surprise as a recent survey of high-achieving women physicians in academic medicine found nearly a third reported experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Doctors are experiencing sexual harassment at rates that compare to what’s happening in industries around the world, Emily Martin, the National Women’s Law Center’s vice president for workplace justice, told Medical Economics.

“Based on studies we have seen, it seems to be at least one in four women and as many as 60 percent of women in some occupations are experiencing sexual harassment on the job. Doctors, unfortunately, are not exempt from that pattern,” she said.

So what can healthcare organizations do to stop sexual harassment? Organizations must create a culture of accountability to eliminate the dangers of workplace intimidation, harassment and other bullying behaviors. See the Medical Economics article for more tips. 

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