Feminism, Gender Equality, Girls In STEM
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Why We Should Talk about Gender Bias and Sexual Harassment in Medical Training


Gender bias and sexual harassment continue to be prevalent issues among medical trainees and practicing physicians. In order to help aspiring female doctors fulfill their career goals, we need to address these issues.

Gender bias is a prevalent issue in the workplace today. However, when it comes to medicine, it seems as if a significant amount remains to be resolved.

In a 2000 study, among 3,332 full-time faculty, female faculty were 2.5 times more likely to perceive discrimination in the workplace. Among women, rates of reported discrimination ranged from 47% for the youngest faculty to 70% for the oldest faculty. In contrast, less than 3% of male faculty reported such experiences. In addition, in a 2009 study, during the interviews with 12 third-year female medical students, many of them found themselves behaving in stereotypically ‘feminine’ ways and had gendered expectations when interacting with supervisors.

Unfortunately, many of these cases of gender discrimination remain unreported as aspiring female physicians may be concerned with the possibility that these cases will affect their careers. In addition, many of them have complex reasons, including culturally gendered expectations, difficulties in combining family responsibilities with personal growth, and a lack of effective mentoring. Therefore, a multifaceted approach is generally recommended to rectify these issues.

Although many universities have established offices that promote the growth of women in academic medicine, these efforts are not sufficient. We invite you to join us in this endeavor to rectify these issues. Gender bias and sexual harassment have no place in medicine. Aspiring female physicians deserve a future where they can achieve their full potential without facing discrimination from others. If you want to see change, you can start by sharing  these statistics with others and by raising your voice against gender discrimination every day, everywhere.

Feature Photo Credit: Day Donaldson

This entry was posted in: Feminism, Gender Equality, Girls In STEM


Megan is a senior at the University of Virginia majoring in Chemistry. She is an advocate for women & girls and an aspiring physician-scientist aiming to conduct translational and health policy research. In addition to PLOS Blogs, her work has been featured/republished at Girls' Globe, Morning Sign Out, and Phys.org. Follow her on Twitter @msmeganyu.

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