Recent high-profile cases of sexual harassment illustrate that such experiences still occur in academic medicine. Less is known about how many women have directly experienced such behavior. Most studies have focused on trainees, single specialties, and non-US settings or lack currency. In a 1995 cross-sectional survey,3 52% of US academic medical faculty women reported harassment in their careers compared with 5% of men. These women had begun their careers when women constituted a minority of the medical school class; less is known about the prevalence of such experiences among more recent faculty cohorts.
In this sample of clinician-researchers, 30% of women reported having experienced sexual harassment compared with 4% of men. Although a lower proportion reported these experiences than in a 1995 sample, the difference appears large given that the women began their careers after the proportion of female medical students exceeded 40%.
Recognizing sexual harassment is important because perceptions that such experiences are rare may, ironically, increase stigmatization and discourage reporting. Efforts to mitigate the effect of unconscious bias in the workplace and eliminate more overtly inappropriate behaviors are needed.
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