According to a study published in JAMA, 30 percent of female doctors said that they were victims of sexual harassment. Only 4 percent of men said that they had dealt with unwanted sexual advances or other forms of harassment. The study looked at 1,066 physicians who had received a career development award from the National Institute of Health.
Of those female doctors who reported having been harassed, close to 60 percent claimed that it had a negative impact on their self-confidence. Almost half said that harassment had an impact on their career progression. The findings were surprising to the researchers who believed that a growing female presence in the medical field would lead to better treatment. Currently, roughly half of all medical students are women.
Regardless of an individual's gender, any unwanted sexual advances or comments of a sexual nature are illegal. An employee may decide to take legal action against the person who commits the harassment or against an employer who allows it to continue. Employers are generally required to have a policy against harassment or have a system that investigates and takes action after an incident of sexual harassment has been brought to management's attention.
Employees should know that they are allowed to make a complaint about harassment to their superiors. They do not have to make complaints to immediate supervisors as they may be the ones committing the illegal behavior. Those who believe that they have been harassed may want to talk to an attorney who focuses his or her practice on sexual harassment. Reinstatement may also be on the table if a worker is terminated in retaliation for making a harassment complaint.