SGO survey finds sexual harassment among gynecologic oncologists

The problem of sexual harassment can appear within any profession in Tennessee, including medical professionals. When the Society of Gynecologic Oncology surveyed its 1,566 US members, 255 women and 147 men responded. The responses indicated that both women and men had experienced sexual harassment while training for their careers or in practice.

The lead author of the study acknowledged that selection bias probably influenced the results because people who had experienced harassment were likely motivated to respond. Even so, the responses revealed that many of the society's members had been victims. Among respondents, 71% of women and 51% of men experienced harassment, especially sexist remarks or requests for sexual favors.

Only 17% of women and 10% of men chose to report their problems. Various reasons kept people from filing complaints. Forty percent of people decided that the harassment did not warrant reporting. Another 37% assumed that their complaints would not produce results. Fear of retaliation silenced another 34%. Among those who might have considered reporting the harassment, 20% explained that they did not know the procedure for making a complaint. A separate report on the subject by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that the current policies and procedures of employers failed to reduce sexual harassment at all.

Inadequate systems or managers who want to ignore complaints tend to isolate victims of sexual harassment. Unresolved harassment or discrimination could damage a person's career, lead to lower pay or even cause wrongful termination. Someone who is looking for answers after mistreatment at work could consult an attorney. A lawyer could prepare a formal complaint to the victim's employer or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and open discussions about a settlement. Legal representation might shield a person from retaliation and lead to the payment of damages.

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